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Lobby on for Negril farmers' market to become an attraction

Published:Monday | April 30, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Junior minister in the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment, Damion Crawford (left), congratulates Charlotte Wallace, general manager of Rockhouse Resort, on the staging of last Wednesday's Market to Table Dinner in celebration of the successful Negril Farmers' Market. - Photo by Sheena Gayle

Sheena Gayle, Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU:

BUOYED BY the success of the Negril farmers' market, tourism stakeholders in that resort town are not only lobbying to make the farmers' market a permanent feature, but also wants to market it as a tourist attraction.

Damion Crawford, the state minister in the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment, said farmers' market as an attraction could work and add value to the resort town, especially since it would benefit both the agricultural and tourism sector.

"What we have to try and do is to extend the effect of the tourism dollar and arrival and one of the ways to do that is to form linkages between agriculture and tourism," Crawford said, while addressing the Rockhouse Resort's Market to Table dinner, in Negril, last Wednesday.

In celebration of the huge success of the Negril farmers' market, which surpassed the national sales average, the Rockhouse Resort hosted a culinary feast at its property with all fresh Jamaican produce that were bought at the market.

"Negril has a unique type of tourism. We have to find the type of tourists who are interested in the farmers' market concept and the places that are in proximity to the resorts to house such a market," Crawford said.

Sell their excess

While other parishes recorded J$5 million in sales, Negril tripled that figure in one farmers' market and has consistently recorded sales of over J$5 million in the 12 farmers' market it has hosted since 2011.

"The farmers are quite happy to be able to sell their excess produce to the point where they are focused on expanding their production acreage and offer consistent supplies for the farmers' market," said Wentworth Mitchell, Rural Agricultural Development Autho-rity parish agricultural manager for Westmoreland.

However, because of the absence of a permanent location for a weekly farmers' market, the event will continue to be staged monthly until the Ministry of Agriculture can construct a permanent facility, Mitchell said.

Farmers from St Elizabeth, Hanover, Trelawny and St James have participated in the market that is limited to just over 35 farmers.

sheena.gayle@gleanerjm.com