Stressing that there needs to be a more sustainable programme, she said the more recent initiative, which will be of immediate, and longer-term benefit to vegetable farmers is a collaboration on a project funded by the Inter-American development bank through the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF).
“The MIF project has been framed as ‘Linking Medium and small enterprises (MSEs) to Anchor Companies in the Barbados Hotel Value Chain’ and is a success story so far. The central problem to be addressed is the limited integration of local small and medium sized farms in the supply chains of hotels and restaurants that anchor the tourism sector, due to high transaction costs. Most MSEs are currently constrained to doing business exclusively in the small domestic consumer market, which limits their profitability, growth prospects and job creation.”
Speaking to the project, she revealed that it would be implemented in two phases. The first, a pilot involving 75 MSEs supplying between one and 15 hotels with ten to 15 local products and Phase 2 which will see the number of MSEs being increased by an additional 75.
“The project includes collection of baseline data on local supply and demand, the design of a monitoring system to track changes, development of a quality assurance scheme, an ICT platform for matching demand and supply, technical and business support for local MSEs, a centralized facility to increase efficiency, consolidation, packing and delivery of goods sourced from the farmers."
The BHTA Chairman said they now had data that estimates what 15 hotels surveyed has consumed and can match small farmers producing quality fresh produce to a schedule with consistent standards to fit the demand.
But even more so, she wants farmers and the BAS to work with the BHTA to develop a secondary industry to preserve and freeze and create products that can be bottled, pickled, packaged and stored in a form that may be attractive to the sector for use in the kitchen or as condiments.
Myers added: “We understand that the area of the supply of flowers still has a potential upside and is low hanging fruit or flowers for us to work on jointly. I believe we need to use the same formula to appoint someone to champion the efforts so we can seek joint funding and move forward.”
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