Tourism and agriculture: harmony not conflict
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Braithwaite, Nicholas. 1993. Tourism and agriculture: harmony not conflict . Spore 43. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/45907
Rt. Hon. Nicholas Braithwaite is Prime Minister of Grenada. Formerly he was an educationalist. As Youth Planner for the Commonwealth Secretariat he was involved in educational and development programmes in many Commonwealth countries and spent...
Rt. Hon. Nicholas Braithwaite is Prime Minister of Grenada. Formerly he was an educationalist. As Youth Planner for the Commonwealth Secretariat he was involved in educational and development programmes in many Commonwealth countries and spent several years working in the South Pacific. Many countries in the Caribbean contemplate a dilemma regarding economic development: to what effect and how rapidly should tourism be developed, bearing in mind the risk of drawing away resources and labour from agriculture? Some other ACP countries face the same choice. I believe that there is the opportunity for tourism and agriculture to benefit each other rather than for one to develop at the expense of the other. We in Grenada have been developing tourism, and rightly so. We have seen a collapse in our nutmeg industry, fluctuating prices for our cocoa and uncertainty hangs over our banana exports to the EC following adoption of the single market. But agriculture must remain the most important sector in the development of Grenada. With tourism we get additional visitors and they surely provide a greater market for our farmers. What we want our farmers to do, is to go into a diversification programme that would stress the importance of fruits, vegetables and other crops. We see the production of fruit and vegetables for our tourist hotels as providing the linkage between tourism and agricultural development. Unfortunately, agriculture has been in decline in Grenada in recent years but we have now taken definite steps to ensure that there is a revival in the industry. We have made more estate lands available for settlement by farmers and we have had technical assistance from French and Taiwanese missions to identify new markets end new crops. ClDA and the UN World Food Programme have helped us to strengthen the infrastructure including plant quarantine facilities, rehabilitation of cocoa and packhouse facilities for exporting fruit and vegetables. We are concerned at this time to deal with the productive sectors of our economy with agriculture as a first priority because if a country like ours has a fiscal problem it is as well to consider structural adjustment, a programme we are engaged in currently in Grenada. In such a programme we can reduce expenditure by reducing the size of the public service; we can privatize to get money to provide counterpart funding for some of our infrastructural development projects. But, in the final analysis, the single most important area for concentration is increased production, because if we do not earn more we are going to find ourselves in recession for a long time. In addition, structural adjustment is likely to lead to unacceptably high levels of unemployment and agriculture provides one of the ways in which we can provide additional employment opportunities for our people. In order to achieve this, however, we must show that agriculture and, through agriculture, agro-industries can offer people a reasonable standard of living. While we seek to diversify into vegetables and fruit, we have also to continue to make the most of our nutmeg, cocoa and bananas. It is clear that there is a threat to the banana growing countries of CARICOM: Belize, Jamaica and the Windward Islands. If we do not get some special concessions as provided in the Lomé Convention, we are going to be in serious difficulties. But competition is a reality we have to face and in the first place we have to make sure that we look at something that is unique, in my view, and that is quality. We also have to emphasize productivity, because the higher the yield the greater the chances of being able to sell at a slightly lower level. Quality is going to become more and more important in an increasingly competitive market. Finally, there is the urgent need to develop agro-industries as part of our agricultural development. What we have had so far is a cottage-type industry where we have used some of our raw materials for making syrups, jams, jellies, sauces and packages of spices. In future we will have to produce in large quantities because unless we can supply local market demands our supermarkets and tourist hotels will continue to import from abroad. We must also change the attitude of some people that the imported item is in some way superior to the home-produced one. So there is undoubtedly the prospect of a dynamic agriculture supplying exports, the tourist industry and agro-processing industries and this could offer our young people worthwhile careers. Unfortunately I cannot say at this time, with the confidence that I would like to, that we can see a change in attitude of our youth towards agriculture. Nevertheless, I am hopeful and the key factor will be to demonstrate that agriculture can pay. The problem we have had with our previous land tenure system with estates and the majority of people involved in agriculture being workers, is that agriculture has been seen in relation to poverty. But if, through ownership of land, we can develop a system of farming where young people can become self-employed, then I think the youth would be attracted. The essential element will be to show that the income from agriculture would allow people to enjoy the same standard of living as a teacher or a civil servant. It is a challenge but one that we must accept in Grenada and, I suspect, in many other ACP countries also. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of CTA.