For small family agriculture producers, tourism can become a strategy to integrate into the value chain through the commercialization of chemical-free products.
This was stated by the representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Roberto Castañeda, who pointed out that 85% of the food in the basic food basket is produced in the Dominican Republic. Of this amount, 93% belongs to businesses that develop family agriculture.
To strengthen these small actors, FAO and the Ministry of Tourism are investing US$220,000 (RD$12.1 million) in the project “Inclusion of women, youth and small farmers’ associations in the value chain of the tourism sector”, for a year and seven months.
The agricultural project seeks to insert farmers from Samaná, Pedernales and Montecristi into the tourism industry value chain. “This approach will allow the commercialization of agro-ecological products in hotels, with kilometer zero being a starting point to decrease preservatives and chemicals used in food,” he explained.
For the Minister of Tourism, David Collado, the Dominican Republic has the challenge of rebuilding this sector in a sustainable, fair way that promotes destinations with more robust lifestyles. “The strengthening of family agriculture encourages farmers to work formally and generates more jobs that boost the Dominican economy,” he said.
The project will insert rural communities into the market for goods and services in a competitive manner as part of the tourism recovery plan.
After overcoming the effects of the pandemic, travelers have been inclined to vacation in emerging places that take care of the environment. Faced with this change of model, the director of tourism initiatives, Yirah Vermenton, stated that tourism must be a regenerative model. “After the coronavirus, the sector does not expect to be a sustainable model, but one that creates fertile conditions for small businesses and entrepreneurs to thrive,” she said.
Meanwhile, the president of the National Association of Hotels and Restaurants (Asonahores), Rafael Blanco, indicated that the tourism sector buys US$870 million worth of food annually.
“Twenty years ago we used to buy 25% imported products and 75% local products. Now, 90% are local foods, because we want to strengthen the Dominican countryside and improve the quality of the products offered to tourists”.