Sun | Dec 5, 2021

Backyard gardening can enable more persons to earn from tourism – Bartlett

Published:Thursday | March 25, 2021 | 12:06 AM
An array of local produce grown by farmers and backyard gardeners on display.
An array of local produce grown by farmers and backyard gardeners on display.

The Ministry of Tourism says it has launched a $6-million backyard gardening project aimed at supplying agricultural produce that are in demand in hotels.

The tourism ministry says the project has already paved the way for 10 young men and women to receive certification from the HEART/NSTA Trust as certified vegetable farmers. They were presented with their certificates virtually in a graduation ceremony streamed live from the Montego Bay Convention Centre recently.

The project has also created opportunities for the beneficiaries to earn an income by selling fresh vegetables to entities in the tourism industry.

In emphasising the significance of the project, Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett noted that the tourism industry has created demand for local foods and the project was conceptualised to bring together idle hands and lands in communities located around hotels to generate economic gains.

Bartlett said the initiative forms part of efforts by the Tourism Linkages Network “to connect those important moving parts of the tourism industry to then fit into a production function that enables a consumption pattern that will bring economic benefit to us as a people”.

He noted that Rose Hall, St James, was chosen for the pilot project because of its capacity for the growing of winter vegetables and its proximity to the Iberostar Hotel, which was able to purchase a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables grown by young farmers in their backyards, and delivered on demand, thereby allowing them to go from farm to table in real time.

Further, the tourism minister said there is demand for niche crops such as organic, and the backyard project has the ability to equip persons from various areas to meet those demands. “I want to see these agricultural farms spring up in Negril, in Ocho Rios, in Port Antonio, and on the south coast,” Bartlett said, adding that “I want to bring more ordinary Jamaicans into the mainstream of providing on the supply side of tourism”.

He expressed Government’s confidence “in the capacity of our people to supply the demand that tourism brings”.

Agriculture Minister Floyd Green, who welcomed the backyard gardening project, offered each graduate a contribution of $10,000 worth of inputs, such as planting materials and other items, to aid in building their capacity to produce.

The Lilliput backyard garden graduates have already organised themselves into the Rosehall Agri-Ventures group. They have already earned from the production of crops such as sweet pepper, lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, sweet basil and black mint, which they have sold to hotels.