IN an effort to boost the nation's gross domestic product (GDP) and increase the consumption of local produce by tourists, the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries have jointly opened an Agri-Linkage Exchange Centre.

The centre, located at the Rural Agricultural Development Authority's St Andrew Parish Office on Old Hope Road, was officially opened on Wednesday after going through a trial for some months.


Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett said the aim of the centre is to register and link more farmers directly with buyers in the hotel industry, and build out the supply side of the tourism sector in the long run.


“This journey, with the use of technology as a critical means of connectivity within the industry, forms part of the broader strategy arrangements of my ministry to link the productive areas of the economy into the tourism demand,” Bartlett said.


He added that this new centre will help to satisfy the increase in demand from tourists for local produce during their visits.


“Each tourist consumes three times the value of the local consumption… and so, in order to satisfy 4.3 million visitors in a given year, our production processes have to increase at least three-fold. Agriculture has a fundamental role to play in satisfying that demand and to create wealth for the country,” the minister said.


Meanwhile, Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Audley Shaw said the opening of the centre shows that the Government is committed to offering support to the farmers, and wants to help them to make a direct connection with purchasers with the use of technology.