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