Lately, there have been quite some media outrages of unusual marriage courts everywhere, spreading like wildfire and going viral. Meanwhile in Nadi, Fiji, TV, newspaper and social media gurus scrambled to catch the latest show of a different kind: Chef – Farmer marriage. And I am here with a team reporting live for the Pacific Community AgriTourism Week.
The third day of this five days’ event has been dubbed as the “Chef-Farmer dating day” by the organisers. And on Friday 3rd July, they are getting married. This matrimony was anticipated, and brings fresh hope to the Pacific people since it has been a long overdue issue. So, no one has a good reason to object to it.
Walking the aisle the “Pacific Way”
The Pacific AgriTourism partners behind this matrimony are the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), the South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO), the University of the South Pacific (USP), the Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Cooperation (CTA), the Intra-ACP Agricultural Policy Programme (Intra-APP), the Pacific Islands Private Sector Organisation (PIPSO) and other national agencies. They will ensure this is done correctly and according to plan, and is taking place here in Danarau, at the Sofitel Hotel. Once the vows are sealed tomorrow, it would become something for the Pacific people to celebrate, as the chefs and farmers Pacific-wide would be doing what they do best – putting our farmers’ foods on the chefs’ menus!
But who’s been courting them?
Well of course, you could say it’s the media, us and you. However you put it, there is one common thing that we share. And that is Information and Communication Technology (ICT). I can tell you that with the use of ICTs such as social media, the speed at which information is brought to a target audience is amazing. And it’s giving both media and social media people the perfect space to communicate what’s happening here in Nadi to a wide audience across the world.
ICTs are linking everyone in the Pacific; from the farmers to chefs, the forum delegates and the donors to the local governments, smallholders to the markets. Speaking at the forum, farmers, chefs, government officials, national, regional and private sector representatives have to acknowledge the importance of ICT.
“Information is the key to promoting agritourism, and making famers and chefs realise that they need each other and the responsibility they have to play for the ocean’s economy”.
Coupling AgriTourism with the Caribbean
There are just too many good reasons and benefits to the Pacific region if they are to grow the link between tourism and agriculture. Since Tourism is proving to become the largest development sector in the islands, then agritourism would be the single springboard for alleviating poverty in the Pacific.
Fiji’s Minister for Agriculture Hon. Inia Seruiratu, and the chair of the ACP and ambassador for Vanuatu to Brussels, Mr. Roy Mickey Joy, were present at the official opening of the Agribusiness Forum, organised by CTA in collaboration with PIPSO and other partners.
Ambassador Roy revealed at the forum that the EU has pledged a $600 Million budget for Pacific Agritourism, the first envelope of its kind. He also emphasised the idea of separating the Pacific and the Carribean from the African continent, because the latter is too large to compare in terms of numbers and capacity.
The Pacific and the Caribbean on the other hand have the biggest ocean on Earth. But they must step up their efforts in order to have a better visibility on the international level, and they can only do this better by forming one block. Ambassador Roy asked the Caribbean delegates if something like this is even possible.
“We, in the Pacific, see the Caribbean as a peaceful region, and widely known for its large tourism sector and reggae music. Now what do you say about us in the Pacific?”
“We see Paradise”, they would reply. “To us, Pacific is exotic. And for the many similar traits we have, we could all share our common challenges and together find solutions to them.”
Does this mean that we could marry our farmers to the Caribbean chefs also? It could well be done. But for now let us prove ourselves we can do it in the Pacific. And for this kind of marriage, there is no limit to the number of farmers and chefs you want to marry for the mouth-watering dishes we are all hoping to see in restaurants, resorts, cafés and our home!
Blogpost by Lopez Marac Adams, Social Reporter for the Pacific Community AgriTourism Week 2015.