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Requirements for marketing and trade

Marketing of fruits and vegetables within States composed of many small islands is constrained by lengthy sea journeys, exacerbated by poor market infrastructures and the limited supply of shipping, due to inadequate quantities of available cargo. Assembly markets to bulk produce together by traders for shipment or road transport could help overcome the latter problem. All too often, farmers are encouraged to plant new crops with no attention being paid to the difficulties associated with marketing.

Marketing for small-scale fisheries is also problematic on a number of counts:

* lack of ice and/or refrigeration to hold catches until they can be transferred to market;

* distance from domestic markets, and, in the case of Indian Ocean and South Pacific island States, distance from export markets; and

* poorly developed national infrastructures and international networks for the distribution of fish.

Inability to comply with regulations relating to quality and safety requirements, pesticide residues, naturally occurring contaminants such as mycotoxins, pathogenic bacteria or insects, also hamper exports. Adequate food quality control mechanisms are therefore urgently needed at the producer, processor and government levels to ensure conformity with basic recommended standards, codes of practice and limits for pesticide residues and contaminants such as those prescribed by the FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Commission. This will improve international and regional trade prospects, avoid costly rejection of exported foods, and promote a better quality and safer domestic food supply.

"Reduction of Post-Harvest Losses of Fruits and Vegetables Entering-Island Trade in the Caribbean"

Inter-island trade in fresh produce has provided a source of revenue to thousands of small-scale farmers with excess capacity compared to limited domestic markets. The hucksters and traffickers, most of whom are women, are highly independent and usually retain title of produce up to the point of wholesale, or even retail. The huckster trade is characterized by inadequate infrastructures relating to market information, produce preparation and packing facilities, packaging materials, sea transport, and wholesale facilities in the importing islands. As a direct consequence, post-harvest losses have been frequently very high, with subjective estimates of some 20 to 50 percent due to many factors, depending on the commodity. This project was implemented from 1986-89 with FAO assistance in Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago. The objective was to reduce post-harvest losses of horticultural produce at the country level, specifically for produce entering inter-island trade, by improving harvesting, handling shipping and marketing of horticultural produce-, creating a core of public and private-sector personnel with knowledge of post-harvest handling activities for horticultural produce; identifying and preparing national projects geared to better post-harvest handling of agricultural produce; improving market operations in the main importing countries; improving wharfside, facilities for the preparation and storage of produce-, and producing training materials on improved post-harvest handling of produce. Although the emphasis of regional training programmes should be at the national level, follow-up should be ensured through a regionally coordinated and agreed programme. A regional institution, such as the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute, or the Caribbean Agricultural Rural Development Advisory and Training Service, could assume responsibility for coordination, and be backed with a clear mandate and the approval of the Standing Committee of Ministers of Agriculture of CARICOM.

The new rules agreed under the recent GATT Round present new challenges for small island developing States' agricultural exports which go mostly to developed countries. For islands to be competitive in the changing food marketing environment, quality and organization must be addressed:

* New food consumption patterns to match consumer preferences, lifestyle and ability to pay. New end products may be in the form of chilled, frozen, fast-food, ready prepared meals, snack foods, products of organic farming, etc. This requires raw materials with different characteristics and farmers must use production techniques conforming to their clients' requirements in terms of safety, animal welfare, breed, variety, etc.

* The changing structure of food retailing and manufacturing strongly influences food consumption patterns and demand for raw materials. Increasingly, food manufacturers and retailers control the food chain vertically. Food retailers compete on convenience, "freshness", health connotations, environmental profiles, and compatibility to lifestyle, not to speak of taste and price. The growing importance of niche markets and the integration of production leads to ever more specialisation in agriculture and an increasing array of direct links between agricultural producers and the manufacturers, retailers, caterers and wholesalers who are increasingly in a position to dictate their conditions to their suppliers.

Small island developing States should consider ways of improving export marketing arrangements with importer countries to take advantage of changing consumption patterns, the growth of niche markets, and the evolution of the distribution system. In this regard, developing a network for the dissemination of information and data concerning world market conditions and trends for small island products would be particularly useful

"Strengthening Food-Control Capabilities in Response to Cholera in the Caribbean"

Following the 1991 cholera epidemic which spread from Peru to several Latin American countries, 13 countries in the Caribbean (Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago) were surveyed to assess existing food control systems and their effectiveness in ensuring adequate consumer protection. The survey disclosed serious deficiencies in the food control systems due to the rapid growth in the number of itinerant vendors selling street food and the overall ineffective coverage given to imported food. The concern of food control officials about the potential threat of cholera and the lack of needed expertise in all aspects of food control were addressed by this project (1992-93) which provided on-site training for inspection of street food operations; laboratory training for microbiological analysis of foods; training in food sampling techniques including imported/exported food, training in food inspection techniques and methods; and training in management of food control programmes and consumer awareness. This project will be followed up by another initiative focusing on export-import inspection and certification in the sub-region.

2. Tourism

Tourism and the environment
Tourism and agriculture
Tourism and fisheries
Tourism and forestry

Tourism plays an important role in the economy of many small island developing States where it is the major source of employment, foreign exchange earnings, and national government revenue. The World Tourism Organization has estimated that tourism receipts account for some 25 percent of total export earnings in the Pacific and over 35 percent for Caribbean islands. Much of the income generated by tourism does, however, leak back to developed countries (30-50 percent in the Caribbean), mostly to foreign air carriers, hotel owners and suppliers of imported food and beverages.

Tourism and the environment

Because the principal gains from tourism are clearly priced and easily observable, whereas the environmental costs generally affect unpriced resources, there is a tendency to overestimate the net social benefits of tourism.

Tourism leads to increased sewage (much of which is left untreated), resource depletion (especially water), conflicts between recreational and commercial fishermen, and other disadvantages. Generally, per capita consumption of resources by tourists has risen to four times that of local residents. Considering that many natural processes converge and interact on the coastal zone, even small-scale development activities there can considerably affect the environment. Island ecosystems are fragile and feature critical habitats, including coral reefs, mangrove swamps, sea grass beds, bird rookeries and sea turtle hatcheries. Nations seeking to develop tourism face the challenge of developing management plans that minimize impacts on these sensitive habitats.

Trade-offs among sectors using land, water, and biological resources could be addressed in the framework of integrated coastal area management aimed at optimizing use of natural resources and protecting them from increased stress. Given the limited productive potential of coastal areas, allocation of user rights and a limited-entry approach to tourism based on estimates of carrying capacity appear wan-anted; at present, control is generally based on physical limits (number of persons per area per day).

Given the importance of the sector in the total economy, the large investments already made in hotels and other infrastructures, and competition from the wide choice of tourist resorts, taking such decisions will require considerable courage and commitment by governments, especially as equally lucrative alternatives are hard to come by.

Tourism and agriculture

On the positive side, tourism provides a stimulus for agricultural production and marketing, especially in the fruit and vegetables sectors. Notwithstanding the demand created for locally produced food, there are still substantial imports of food specifically for the tourist sector (in the Caribbean islands, the share of local producers in hotel food supply ranges from as little as 5 percent in Montserrat to 50 percent in Dominica). Although import substitution is possible, the share of domestic agriculture is trending downwards.

Development of tourism has generally deprived the agricultural sector of critical resources (labour and capital) because of the low rates of return on capital employed in agriculture due to low prices and low productivity. Gradual liberalisation has done nothing to improve matters and the next phase will see tariffs reduced to international levels. Given the constraints under which they operate, farmers will doubtless have great difficulty to compete on equal terms. On the basis of the projected growth in tourist expenditures, the value of food demand could expand significantly. If domestic production fails to respond to this increased demand, the tourist industry will be accompanied by even higher levels of food imports with negative macro-economic effects.

If foreign competition could be faced, growth in small island economies could be achieved through a vital link between agriculture and tourism. Areas of opportunity for such linkages (which appear to lie essentially in the market gardening and meat and fish areas) should therefore be examined against the following criteria: existence of local production capability geared to the main tourist season; satisfactory potential for penetration of the tourist market, both locally and regionally; adequate additional demand support from local consumers during the low season; and availability of human resources and skills.

Unfortunately, as already demonstrated in this document, this appears to be fraught with difficulties: increased production requires labour which is in short supply; the cost of credit (especially necessary for small farmers) depends essentially on international financial market conditions; the required land resources are scarce and fragile; external tariffs for agricultural products are bound in GATT, making it impossible to fix levels that would allow local farmers to rebuild their competitive edge and improve the quantity and quality of their products; technology transfer requires qualified ministry staff; building adequate marketing infrastructures, especially roads, is costly.

Opportunities for supplying tourist demand are greater if viewed from a regional rather than a national perspective, some islands having a comparative advantage over others in supplying particular manufactured and agricultural products within a given region. New investment and employment possibilities can be found through small island joint ventures, aiming at supplying to the tourist sector goods and services currently provided by foreign firms. Development and implementation of operational production plans such as regional directories targeted at hoteliers listing details of local manufacturers and producers, and seasonality of local produce; common food quality standards; improved marketing of local produce; representation of regional suppliers at trade shows dedicated to selling to the hotel sector; and improved transportation to facilitate access to markets.

An essential element in the development of the confidence of tour operators and of the tourists in general, is the quality and safety of the food offered inside and outside tourist establishments. Records of frequent diarrhoea episodes or food poisoning are particularly detrimental. Special efforts should be made to ensure the safety and quality of the food supply as outlined above. This should include measures to prevent the transmission of food borne diseases through imported foods.

In order to increase food sales to the tourist sector it is essential to ensure reliable and regular supplies to hotels, for instance through contractual arrangements between hotels and producers or traders to replace the ad hoc arrangements which apply in most small island developing States.

"Agriculture/Tourism Linkages in the Caribbean Islands"

In 1992, the joint Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean/FAO Agriculture Division commissioned a series of case studies on the linkages between agriculture and the tourist sectors in selected member states of the Caribbean Community. The countries involved were: Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Following a review of both sectors and their demand and supply requirements, areas of opportunities, between agriculture and tourism were identified along with an analysis of import substitution potential, reduction in inevitable imports and potential employment factor. Those studies suggest that agricultural production has not been so far geared to take advantage of the possibilities (at home or within the region) offered by the tourist demand And that appropriate policies and an institutional base are required to foster and sustain the linkage between agriculture and tourism.

Tourism and fisheries

The coastal and oceanic fisheries resources available to small islands developing States constitute an important tourist attraction. This is the case in the Caribbean and for some States in the Indian Ocean. However, with the exception of Fiji and the Cook Islands, revenue generated from tourism in the South Pacific is not as great as that derived from commercial tuna fishing and certain shore-based activities (e.g. copra production and processing) and light manufacturing (e.g. garment production). Small islands developing States in the Pacific foster tourism (e.g. through national promotion programmes and regional tourist agencies). However, due to concern about the adverse cultural impact of unregulated tourism, these countries are turning towards socially and environmentally acceptable tourism rather than mass tourism of the type found in other areas of the world.

Fisheries targeting high-value species and aquaculture of luxury organisms such as pearls and freshwater crayfish for the tourist trade have developed relatively quickly in most island countries. Extensive fishing of certain species to supply restaurants is causing stocks to decline (e.g. coconut crab in Vanuatu). If managed sustainably, such fisheries could increase income-generation and inter-island trade. Coordination of traditional fisheries, marine reserves and tourism (including sport fishing and diving) is necessary to avoid allocation problems and conflicts among various users of coastal areas.

The concept of eco-tourism focusing on marine resources is well established in some islands (e.g. the Maldives) and is becoming more common in others (e.g. Dominica). With this approach, which centres around the use of the resources of the coastal zone for water sports such as swimming and diving, the economic value of fish and coral reefs takes on a new dimension. Indeed, the harvesting and degradation of these resources could damage the reputation of an island as a tourist destination, and unselective and destructive fishing practices such as the use of toxic agents and dynamite which can quickly destroy reefs, are normally banned under fisheries legislation.

Eco-tourism is enhanced in small island developing States by:

* government policies and programmes that prohibit or discourage the harvesting of certain fish (e.g. reef fish);

* establishment of marine reserves or sanctuaries where fishing is selectively regulated or prohibited. Within these reserves the observation of fish and other marine species (e.g. whales and dolphins) is possible. The establishment of marine reserves might also be designed to prevent the destruction of coral reefs either from mining (where coral has been used as a traditional building material) or by indiscriminate or overuse by local residents and tourists.

Sport fishing and diving is becoming a very important tourist activity for many island countries. This activity has gained importance only in recent years, and more recently still, conflicts with other more traditional fishing activities have surfaced. Game fishing is an important economic component of tourism. This type of fishing generates substantial revenues, is selective and mainly confined to offshore areas where likelihood of capture of large pelagic fish (e.g. sailfish) is greatest. For many reef-dependent species, localised fishing sanctuaries can help reduce conflict between user groups. However, sanctuaries do not work for highly mobile resources such as those targeted by off-shore sport fishing. Well-managed sports fisheries can provide direct and indirect employment opportunities for islanders, are unlikely to have substantial adverse resource and environmental impacts, and pose few interaction problems with inshore small-scale or offshore commercial industrial fisheries.

Governments may be faced with demands for a complete ban on commercial fishing in favour of oceanic sport fishing, but proper management of highly migratory species is contingent upon successful regional cooperation. Given their limited coastal resources of island States, increased tourism and increased fishing will always lead to allocation problems. Governments will have to decide short- and long-term resource allocation strategies in accordance with their countries' economic and social needs. This activity, like fishing for highly migratory species, also suffers from a historical lack of research in support to management. This is due to the limited resources available to small island developing States to carry out research on oceanic resources and also to the lack of coordination between studies providing support to the management of fisheries, marine reserves and tourism.

Tourism and forestry

Forests and woodlands contribute an important component to the diversity of locations, environment and interest to tourism. They frequently provide the habitat for species of plant and wildlife and interesting surroundings for eco-tourism and explorations.

The maintenance of forests is essential to conserve landscapes important to tourism and to protect mountains and hill landscapes, watersheds and streams from erosion, siltation and degradation.

Trees in streets, parks and the surroundings are an important feature in the landscape and environment of tourism.

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