A small but energetic team of agriculture and food production stakeholders and entrepreneurs from the Pacific are currently in the Caribbean region this week exchanging ideas with their Caribbean colleagues with the hope of bringing back home valuable ideas.
Vanuatu Director General of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry, Fisheries and Biosecurity, Howard Aru took the podium during the opening of the Caribbean/Pacific Agri-Food Forum to give a Pacific Perspective of the Forum explaining why they had to travel over 30 hours to get to the meeting.
“The simple and straightforward answer to these questions is that we are eager to link, learn and to help transform the Pacific region as is the sub-theme of this week’s programme here in Bridgetown, Barbados,” said Aru.
“I very much want the Caribbean to know that the knowledge and experiences you have and continue to share with us does have a direct bearing and positive impact on the Pacific. We acknowledge the CTA for facilitating that crucial linkage and making it work for our two regions.”
Referencing past similar events, the Pacific representative Agri-Tourism is the current flourishing buzzword of the Pacific region.
Since the Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Cooperation (CTA) kick-started the interaction between the two regions, a lot is happening across the Pacific Region.
“Suffice to say though... the movement is now like an unquenchable fire in the region,” said Aru.
“Everybody is talking about agri-tourism although we are fully well aware and appreciate the inherent challenges.
“The fact that we stand on very organic soils and keep depending on and begging for vegetables grown on foreign soils ought to make us worry in the long run. Some tell us we cannot do it because that’s the way they want things to be – for us to continue to depend on them.”
Aru also mentioned that one of the biggest challenges is the need to remain committed and solidly focused on the big picture and to be very strategic and systematic about addressing ‘Agri-Tourism’.
“We again thank the CTA and our Caribbean colleagues for the foresight and ingenuity in helping us all to zero down on ‘Agri-Food’ and ‘Chefs for Development’ as a major wedge and strategic inroad into the forever growing tourism market that could contribute far more than may have been experienced thus far in both our regions.”
CTA is a joint institution operating under the framework of the Cotonou Agreement between the ACP Group of States (Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific) and the EU Member States (European Union). It is funded by the European Union.