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AgriCULTURE: The resurgence of small farming in Jamaica

There is a renewed interest in farming and agriculture in Jamaica as a means to capitalise on the current trend of experiential tourism and to infuse some fresh air into a lagging economy.

Many younger travelers wish to feel that their visit has a true positive impact on the lives of a destination’s residents.  Voluntarism travel is strong and as agricultural tourism continues to surge in popularity, Caribbean islands are catering to these visitors by offering unique farming and culinary experiences.

And trends in travel are dictating trends in local life.

Although there is bit of a romantic aspect to this resurgence and a nod to a more innocent “pre-industrial” age, the more tech-savvy farmers are finding ways to increase their reach and promote their goods directly to consumers by touting buzzwords like “sustainable” and “ethical”. Over all, there is a general sense of purpose about starting over and “getting it right this time around”.

Educational programs in Jamaica are revitalizing farming practices and teaching the “culture” of agriculture. Distaste for mass industrialized production, along with the newfound appreciation for locally-sourced and seasonal products are signaling local farmers that this is their moment to shine. Farming on a small scale or “boutique farming” is proving to be the most effective way to better regulate methods and grant that almost personal aura to a product, something that millenial tourists and consumers crave. And small scale is good news for the Caribbean where smaller islands are no longer left out or at a significant disadvantage due to a lack of square mileage. Nor are they forced to compete or “undercut” one and another in order to lure large foreign corporations who linger for a while yet inevitably move on, often leaving behind their obsolete and decaying infrastructure and environmental headaches.

This shift is encouraging efforts to support entrepreneurship in the Caribbean, as governments redirect focus away from foreign ventures and look to invest on those who are already the most invested in the islands’ success: their own residents.


Photo courtesy of Stush in the Bush.