SLHTA’s Vir­tual Agri­cul­tural Clear­ing House Hon­oured for its work in Sup­port­ing Agri-Tourism Link­ages

The Star (St. Lucia) - - CLASSIFIED -

The SLHTA’s Vir­tual Agri­cul­tural Clear­ing House (VACH) was re­cently hon­oured as a fi­nal­ist in the Caribbean Ho­tel & Tourism As­so­ci­a­tion’s 2017 CHIEF Awards. The CHTA’s Caribbean Hos­pi­tal­ity In­dus­try Ex­change Fo­rum Awards high­lights Caribbean busi­nesses that, through their best prac­tices, im­prove the well­be­ing of the in­dus­try and the re­gion. The ini­tia­tive (VACH), es­tab­lished in April 2016, re­ceived sec­ond place in the So­cial Re­spon­si­bil­ity cat­e­gory. The Vir­tual Agri­cul­tural Clear­ing House op­er­ates on a sim­ple What­sapp plat­form via which ho­tels, restau­rants and food and bev­er­age dis­trib­u­tors ob­tain in­for­ma­tion on the avail­abil­ity of crops, thereby fa­cil­i­tat­ing an in­crease in the sale of lo­cal pro­duce and en­cour­ag­ing im­port sub­sti­tu­tion. In its first year of op­er­a­tions, over 400 farm­ers en­rolled in the pro­gramme re­sult­ing in over $800,000 worth of pro­duce traded in that year alone.

Through the ef­forts of hote­liers, restau­rants and food and bev­er­age com­pa­nies, strength­ened by the work of the VACH, a greater per­cent­age of can­taloupes, hon­ey­dew, wa­ter­mel­ons, toma­toes and pineap­ples used on prop­er­ties around the is­land were pur­chased lo­cally.

The pro­gramme con­tin­ues to grow and re­cently re­ceived three green­houses spon­sored by the Em­bassy of the Re­pub­lic of China (Tai­wan). Through this, and the con­tin­ued en­gage­ment of pri­vate and public sec­tor part­ners, it is hoped that th­ese strength­ened link­ages will main­tain the as­sis­tance and sup­port given to the agri­cul­tural sec­tor.

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