Hanover farmers not benefitting from tourism – MP Hayles
Ian Hayles, the People’s National Party (PNP) member of parliament for Western Hanover, says that despite holding a place of prominence on the nation’s tourism radar, the farmers in the parish are not benefitting from the sale of the products.
Hayles, who was speaking at the contract signing and groundbreaking ceremony for the new Rural Agricultural Development Authority office, in Lucea, said farmers in the parish rarely sell any products to the hotels there.
“If you look at where agriculture is in the parish, and if you look at where we are coming from, I think Hanover has probably the most hotel rooms across the country, but in terms of the throughput, in terms of the link between farmers and the hotel sector, the farmers here hardly sell anything to the hotels,” Hayles said.
“I say that because we have not created the linkages as yet between farming, the farmers, and the hotel sector, and imports continue to hurt us as we go along,” he added.
Noting that farming is important to the people of Hanover, Hayles suggested that the Government develop a policy aimed at resolving that situation.
“We have been lucky enough and fortunate enough to get some farm roads [repaired] across the parish, which is good. We have the famous Lucea yam, which needs to be revived. We have turmeric here in the parish that is one of the best you can find across the country, but we still suffer, and we suffer because most of our farmers have not been able to get a fair break in terms of selling their goods to the hotel sector across this parish,” argued Hayles.
According to Hayles, if even one per cent of what is consumed in the hotels in Hanover came from the parish’s farmers, it could make a difference in their lives.
“If we do not do anything else as a parish and as a country, let us create the linkages between the hotel sector and the farmers to ensure that for those that we are giving the tax break to enter our shores to operate as tourism interest, the farmers of this country can get something back,” stated Hayles.
Agriculture Minister Audley Shaw, who was in attendance at the ceremony, supported Hayles’ sentiments.
“This is one of our problems, and it is something that we have started to deal with,” said Shaw.
“[Tourism] Minister [Edmund] Bartlett and myself have established a programme called the ALEX programme, which is an exchange programme where we work with small farmers to target markets in the hotels. It is still at a fairly early stage, but we want to make sure that the ALEX programme matures, and our farmers across the country can benefit.”