Ena Harvey, Agribusiness Specialist in Agrotourism, IICA (InterAmerican Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture)

Ena Harvey is the Agribusiness Specialist in Agrotourism with IICA (InterAmerican Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture). Over the last four years, she has spearheaded IICA’s initiatives with the public and private sector in Agrotourism in the Caribbean and Latin America, including the development of a Caribbean Strategy and Action Plan for trade linkages and rural tourism development. She currently serves as IICA’s representative on the CTO Board of Directors, and the CTO Sustainable Tourism Committee.  She holds an M.Sc. in Process Engineering (University of Guelph, Canada), a B.Sc. First Class (Hons) degree in Tropical Agriculture (UWI, Trinidad), and has some 25 years’ experience as an agro-industry consultant.

New: Watch video interview of Ena Harvey here

Ena Harvey, IICA  © IICA

CTA: Being one of the high-level experts on agritourism at IICA, how do you see the linkages between agriculture and tourism and the impact it had in the ground over the years? Any examples of big advancements at policy or value chain level?

​Linkages are on the increase, fuelled by initiatives to source locally, eat fresh and healthy and by tourists who increasingly want to make a social contribution by way of supporting communities who produce food.

​The impact on the ground is positive, with hotels and chefs seeking out farmers and small scale processors who could supply them with fresh and authentic products, and a slow but steady increase in the availability of tours, events and publications that feature local foods, Caribbean cuisine and all of the culture​ surrounding food in the Region.

 Big advancements in policy and the value chain level can be seen in support for formal agreements among farmers’ groups, manufacturers and hotel chains, such as the arrangements in Barbados between the BAS, Sandals Hotels, supermarket chains and the Barbados Manufacturers Association.

Many Ministries of Tourism now include the development of food tourism in their budgets and promotions.  In St. Vincent & the Grenadines, the Ministry is now in the process of establishing at least five agrotourism community groups to promote tours in rural communities and at the level of the OECS, an agrotourism resource centre is being established to provide information and support to entrepreneurs.

There has also been a lot of support by chefs for involvement of schools in culinary arts and cooking competitions. ​

What urgent actions remain to be done and what could be the drivers for change?

​Formal arrangements across Ministries of Agriculture, Tourism, Health, Trade and the Environment to promote linkages should be prioritised​. ​Scaling up of successful models of linkage and the supporting investment are also urgent actions to be done.  Drivers for change should be channelled through PPP initiatives. ​

Do you see an increase in awareness amongst the wider public and tourists about the Barbadian Caribbean food experience? And what steps should be taken to increase food tourism?

 ​Absolutely.  The Food, Wine and Rum annual festival has gained popularity and extends into the very sophisticated niches of Barbados' tourism product.  Local rum shop tours are on the increase, supported by a new association of owners of rum shops.  ​Food tourism in Barbados needs to be grounded in the communities.  Each Parish has its own unique food culture and traditions, and these need to be validated and notched up to create tourism experiences.  An annual Taste of Barbados, representing Parish competitions would be a good development. ​

 You are involved in working with CTA and the Pacific region. What lessons could be shared from the Caribbean of interest to other small islands?

 ​Lessons from the Caribbean could include successes in policy development, institutional arrangements at the regional level, and models covering very small and unique attractions to models of linkage between hotels and farmers groups - the latter would include the stories of Sandals in the Region, the Four Seasons Hotel in St. Kitts & Nevis, Goodfellow Farms and other farms in the Bahamas, organic farmers in St. Lucia and St. Vincent.....​

What are IICA commitment to agribusiness and agritourism in the coming years and the main foreseen actions?

​Agribusiness and agritourism are central to our Flagship Projects in Competitive Chains, Rural Inclusion and Family Agriculture.  Support for linking agriculture with tourism is being mainstreamed in all of the IICA Caribbean offices.  We are providing online training in agro-ecotourism for potential entrepreneurs in 2016, and also through IICA Mexico, providing a diploma course in Rural Tourism.  We will continue to work with CTA to promote Chefs for Development and to share international public goods with the Pacific and other regions.​