Vanuatu Looks To Develop Agritourism Industry

Connection between agriculture, value-added products, tourism, trade explored

By Len Garae

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, April 5, 2017) – Agritourism is a new vocabulary that is catching up fast because two important documents called ‘Vanuatu Agritourism Plan of Action’ and ‘Vanuatu Agritourism Plan of Action Implementation Plan’, are now plotting the way forward to achieve prosperity for the country through a solid partnership between Agriculture, Trade and Tourism.

The documents were launched by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade, Tourism and Commerce, Joe Natuman at Tagabe Agriculture Station yesterday.

The Deputy Prime Minister said in his Ministry, agencies and partnership will focus mainly on increasing the production of value added products based on primary commodities that will be produced by agencies under MALFFB.

In the past, statistics have shown that over 90% of products in the handicraft industry sold to tourists were imported. The same was found of foods served to visitors. “This Vanuatu Agritourism Plan of Action is the first step to strengthen partnership with all partners to increase the productions of value added products for both the domestic and export markets,” the Deputy PM said.

“We must be proactive and innovative in progressing the development of our country towards the realisation of the long term vision of a stable, sustainable and prosperous Vanuatu. We must explore import substitutions, where feasible and expand the tax base of the economy through a progressive transfer of Vanuatu business from the informal sector to the formal sector, from the MSME to the large businesses and increase the participation and contribution of the rural population in the national economic agenda of the country”.

Unfortunately the Minister said the Government has been preaching value addition for the last 30 years without achieving anything tangible to show for it.

“So as Minister responsible for Tourism, Trade, Commerce and Industry, I want to achieve through this plan tangible outcomes that I can show how we have been able to achieve expected levels of value addition in Vanuatu.

“That we have been able to increase the spending of tourists on local productions from current levels to a 50% increase, that when you take your family to a Chinese restaurant that you will be able to eat locally farmed Peking ducks, buy locally made noodles from manioc flour and drink healthy fruit juices that were produced from Vanuatu orchards.

“Only then would the Ministry be truly successful in facilitating value addition in Vanuatu,” he said.

The double launching ceremony was also attended by the Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, Forests, Fisheries and Biosecurity, Matai Seremaiah and Acting DG of Trade (ADG), George Borugu, ADG of Agriculture Benjamin Shing, and senior staff of the both ministries, and a representative from the New Zealand High Commission, Jimmy Nipo.

Speaking the same language for the same expected outcome, the Minister of Agriculture said, “I want to increase the productions of the main primary commodities in the country such as coconut, cocoa, coffee, beef, fish, small livestock, root crops and fruits and vegetables for both local consumption and also for exports”.

He said the plan will also strengthen the linkages between agriculture and tourism because tourism is a very important market for agriculture productions such as fruits and vegetables, beef, fish and a whole package of other products.

But the Minister stressed that the need to strengthen linkages is not only important between agriculture and tourism but to all sectors of the economy because the country depends on it.

“For far too long now agencies in government have compartmentalized their services and spent too much time on castle building without really contributing positively to making a difference in the growing of the economy and improving lives in the islands,” he said.

“I want to make this difference in the growing of the economy and improving lives in the islands.

“I want to make this difference through this plan to get all agencies in government to work together to facilitate an increase in the production of primary commodities as well as improve the lives of families throughout the islands through the services of agencies under the ministry because the future of our country depends on it”.

In addition the outspoken minister said, “This Vanuatu Agritourism Plan of Action is for me, the implementation schedule for the Agriculture Sector Policy especially to increase the production of primary commodities for both the domestic and export markets.

“We in government have always claimed that agriculture is the mainstay of the majority of the population of this country.

“I challenge you to join me to prove it through this plan.”

After leading a powerful MALFFB team to Tanna last year where he assured the farmers he would return this year with tractors and his staff to help them plough and plant potatoes and onions, this time he said, “I want to see the island of Tanna to be the leader in the production of vegetables and Arabica coffee; Santo and Malekula to be the leaders in cattle, cocoa, coconut, and Robusta coffee, Penama to be the leader in kava and so on.

“Can we achieve this through our partnerships?

“I am tired of hearing people say that we are importing fish, beef and fruits and vegetables because there is not enough supply in the country.

“So let us work together through this partnership under the Vanuatu Agritourism Plan of Action to increase production of all commodities that are important in the lives of rural families and the economy.

“And let us stop this statement that there is not enough supply in country.”

Tafea Outer Islands MP Tomker and former technical persons were involved in the two documents including former DG of Agriculture, Howard Aru and former Director of Agriculture, James Wasi, that were among the specialists to also celebrate the launching ceremony.

Vanuatu Daily Post
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