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Oxfam funds market access initiative

Oxfam funds market access initiative

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“I make no bones in saying that we have had greater support from Oxfam GB than we have had from our four Governments in the Windward Islands over the years.” This was the confession of the Windward Islands Farmer’s Association (WINFA) coordinator Renrick Rose. While making it clear that WINFA had been receiving Governmental support, Rose said he wanted to emphasize the exceptional work of Oxfam in coming to the assistance of WINFA.{{more}}

Rose was chairing “The Launching of Agriculture & Tourism Market Access Initiative” workshop held last Tuesday, June 27 at the Sunset Shores Hotel at Villa. In his presentation to the participants of the consultation which included farmers from throughout St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. Cleve Scott of Oxfam explained that over 75% of the tourism expenditure ‘leaks’ out of the Caribbean economy. This lack of ‘local’ economic linkages is illustrated in the agricultural sector, with 70% of fresh produce being imported, 67% from United States wholesalers.

So the study undertaken by Oxfam GB (Great Britain) in February 2003 sought to identify and design a programme to address the key barriers blocking access for farmers (and producers) to the Tourism sector. The year-long consultative process included the farmers, the Tourism private sector, government and their agencies and NGO’s working in the sector.

Dr. Scott explained that increasing trade in fresh produce by developing hotel demand and production capacity through strengthening farmers’ organizations and related agencies were among the aims of the programme.

The implementation of this programme began in earnest in 2005 and now after the success seen in St. Lucia, WINFA and Oxfam are seeking to bring this model to St Vincent and the Grenadines.

When she addressed the participants Margaret Harris of Oxfam said that her organization continues to work vigorously to end the use of International Monetary Fund and the World Bank programmes that force poor countries to open their markets regardless of the impact on the poor.

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