After years of complaining about the absence of strategic linkages between the tourism and agriculture sectors, it seems as though Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS) James Paul may finally be getting his wish.
During yesterday’s quarterly general meeting of the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association (BHTA) at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, the BAS was formally inducted as an affiliate member of the tourism grouping with an upbeat chairperson of the BHTA Roseanne Myers stating that she was keen to work with the farmers’ organization.
“We [have] determined that we will make the Barbados Agricultural Society an affiliate member of the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association,” said Myers, while emphasizing that it was not a case of “us and them” but “Barbadians working together in two private sector associations to openly share information, statistics, to help us both to plan the supply and demand of the produce that we are producing in this country.
“We hope to facilitate interactions between farmers and chefs to better understand the needs and the challenges one to the other,” she added.
The local farming community has been clamouring for the private sector to offer more support to them, while arguing that closer ties would not only provide employment opportunities but save the country valuable foreign exchange.
While acknowledging that the relationship between hoteliers and agriculturalists has been a bugbear for many years, Myers said gone were the days when the two sides could be seen fighting in the newspaper.
“We have real work to do and we are starting today by formally inducting the BAS as part of our membership. We are implementing, we are not just talking,” she stressed.
The improved relationship between the two associations will result in the BHTA gathering information from its members on what goods were needed and in what quantity. That information will then be passed on to the BAS.
It will also see to the establishment of a fresh produce centre where farmers would be able to take their goods, which would then be delivered to hotels and restaurants.
Accepting the membership into the BHTA yesterday, Paul pledged the support and cooperation of the BAS, saying he would ensure farmers “do the best for Barbados”.