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Promoting organic agro-tourism in Jamaica

Income from banana production in rural communities has declined (© WRENmedia)
Income from banana production in rural communities has declined
© WRENmedia

A one-year programme in Jamaica has increased expertise in organic agriculture and certification, improved marketing, and enhanced agricultural and agro-processing infrastructure to address the problem of declining income from banana production in rural communities. "Farmers have increased their knowledge of regional and international requirements, targeted customer preferences and improved their marketing skills," explains project leader, Professor Phil Harris. "Addressing these issues has helped them to become more competitive, create brand distinctiveness, and expand market share and the demand for community-based agro-products."

Funded by a grant from the EU Banana Support Programme, Jamaica PRIDE* identified opportunities for the local marketing of organic products, provided technical advice and training in organic production and explored the possibilities for further diversification into crops such as organic herbs and spices. Based upon the local organic production systems, and combined with culinary heritage, stories, music and crafts, Jamaica PRIDE also developed a model of organic agro-tourism to support and promote agricultural diversification in Mango Valley.

Delivered by researchers from Coventry University in collaboration with the Jamaica Organic Agriculture Movement and the Jamaican Network of Rural Women Producers, the project worked with the Mango Valley Visionaries Friendly Society (MVVFS). Grants and training provided to MVVFS allowed them to clear, cultivate, plant and irrigate farmland, and to erect greenhouses, to diversify their crop production, and secure a local source of ingredients for their processing plant. To promote MVVFS's Mango Valley Pride brand of jams and local delicacies, new market relationships were also developed and unique links between the provenance and the qualities of the foods produced in the area were established. Processing facilities and equipment at Mango Valley were upgraded and staff were trained in basic food hygiene and safety, and procedures to enable full registration of their products.

Although Jamaica PRIDE focused on one specific community for its intensive one-year programme, the lessons learned, the resources produced and the model developed have benefited other communities in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean.

* Promoting Rural Integrated Development and Enterprise: A Participatory Business Model for Organic Agro-Tourism

Date published: October 2011

 

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