Tourism over the years has become a significant economic sector for many island nations in the Pacific, and agriculture is the principal source of livelihood for communities. Tourism has the potential to stimulate demand in the agriculture sector, promote healthy and nutritious food and support the use of local products. Organic agriculture contributes significantly to the improvements of local and regional food security, enables farmers to trade locally and harness reliable export markets, encourage the use of environmentally friendly management practices, and promote the adoption of ethical labour and social justice principles.
High quality, nutritious and healthy food, available every day of the year, is critical for the accommodation sector, restaurants and eateries across the Pacific. Heavy dependence on imported food and produce to service the local tourism industry has always been regarded a weak area for tourism. However the increasing shift in supporting locally sourced produce and healthier food options and lifestyle is encouraging.
Whilst countries are at different stages of tourism and agricultural development, much has been done at country level in bridging the gap between the two sectors. Over time and more recently as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the agritourism and organic food movements have evolved quickly with stronger recognition and interest in the value of agritourism. More information on the work by the countries can be sourced from their respective National Tourism Organisations and agritourism partners directly.
Since the establishment of the Tourism Council of the South Pacific, partnerships to promote agritourism linkages, local cuisine and chefs’ development have been a big part of regional programmes of support. The Pacific Community (SPC), in collaboration with the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), the Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO), the Pacific Islands Private Sector Organisation (PIPSO) and the University of the South Pacific (USP) convened a regional workshop from 29th June to 3rd July 2015 in Nadi, Fiji. With the intention of strengthening the linkages between agriculture and tourism, and promoting trade for poverty alleviation in the Pacific, the week-long activities included a:
Building on the success of ongoing efforts since 2015, the inaugural Pacific Week of Agriculture was hosted in Port Vila Vanuatu from the 16th to 20th October 2017. The week-long event saw international and regional participants explore innovative solutions, discuss challenges and discovering various ways in protecting and expanding agriculture in the Pacific. SPTO and the Vanuatu Chefs Association collaborated on a side event where local chefs showcased their cooking skills via a demonstration event where they had the opportunity to cook for the Ministerial level delegations.
The second Pacific Week of Agriculture was celebrated in Apia, Samoa. SPTO, CTA, the Pacific Islands Farmers Organisations Network (PIFON) and partners including the Samoa Tourism Authority, Samoa Hotel Association, Samoa Women in Business Development Incorporation and the Samoa Farmers Association came together to host a Side Event focusing on promoting the role of women farmers and chefs development through a Farm to Table Chefs and Mamas Cook-off. Utilizing local ingredients to develop authentic dishes that represents the diversity of the Pacific, the Cook-off aimed to boost capacity development for local chefs. Renowned Fiji Chef Lance Seeto was a guest judge.
The Agritourism Experiences Talanoa Series 2021, a tripartite collaboration between SPTO, SPC Pacific Organic and Ethical Trade Community (POETCom) and the Pacific Agriculture Research in Development Initiative Phase 2 (PARDI 2) was launched on 16 June 2021. A knowledge and information sharing platform, the initiative aims to:
Learn more about the experiences of our tourism operators and farmers by watching the recordings from the Talanoa Series: