Chefs for development: an innovative approach to promote Agritourism


Sometimes opportunities need to be created rather than waiting for them to come. And for a region like the Pacific, which has often been described with the sentence;“If there is a place in the world that is a mystery – it’s the Pacific”, it may just be better to create windows of opportunity rather than wait for a chance that may take the ‘big’ world years to drop by.

Who would have thought that Chefs, the gladiators of la cuisine, would one day be the cutting edge strategy upon which the hopes of trade would hang? At least, I didn’t.

What’s happening?

Well, this coming week, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) together with the South Pacific Tourism Organization (SPTO), the University of the South Pacific (USP) and the Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Cooperation (CTA), the Intra-ACP Agricultural Policy Programme (Intra-APP), the Pacific Islands Private Sector Organisation (PIPSO) and other national agencies, is hosting the Pacific Community Agritourism Week from 29th June to 3rd July 2015 in Nadi, Fiji to promote opportunities for Pacific Agrifood sector in tourism-related markets. As part of the event, a culinary training workshop will be organised throughout the week, whereby celebrity chefs will prepare dishes with local ingredients and products live!

 The idea

Simple really. First, all we need is an influential and fabulous chef to design mouth-watering “to die for” dishes that incorporate pacific grown ingredients. These ingredients are ready to be exported by farmers that we are working with. Second, these dishes are designed and cooked in front of importers, distributors and retailers such as hoteliers, restaurateurs, and other chefs at an exhibition such as a trade mission or trade show. In this case, it will be the Pacific Community Agritourism week. Third, all goes well, the participants hopefully like the dishes and we introduce them to the exporters who are also present at the exhibition. And Four, Voilà! They exchange contacts and the import/export starts.

On-the-ground efforts

Chefs showcasing the practical use of agricultural commodities has been an effective way of localising or globalising an ingredient. The Pacific Community Agritourism week brings together the innovative approach of engaging chefs to promote agriculture within the tourism network.

It is only fitting, seeing that the Pacific being a popular tourist destination, with the event being held at the Sofitel Fiji Resort and Spa located in Denarau, Fiji’s rising tourist attraction, increases the opportunity of finding markets for pacific grown commodities. With the Pacific Community Agritourism week anticipating attendees from around the Pacific region, Europe and the Caribbean, it synergises the efforts of finding markets through tourism, aptly put by next week’s theme – Glocalising Pacific Agri-Food through Tourism.

Some more examples

Trade shows the world over have been employing this innovative approach of Chefs for development to promote agriculture, nutrition and tourism. The concept is the same with innovative twists added to it, tailored to the commodities of the markets in question. The Pacific is now employing this approach and is forging ahead. In April, the Pacific Agriculture Policy Project conducted a Culinary Training in Tonga and in the coming weeks, SPC, through the European Union supported Increasing Agricultural Commodity Trade (IACT) Project in partnership with Pacific Islands Trade and Invest (PT&I) New Zealand will be taking six Pacific island enterprises to a Trade mission in New Zealand early July. The trade mission is also lined up to have chefs showcase the ways in which pacific and pacific grown ingredients can be used in localised dishes.

This just might be the way taro finds its way to dinner tables way beyond the horizons of the Pacific. Join us for the Pacific Community Agritourism week and follow us on Twitter with the hashtag #PacAgriTo to find out more about event and how you can be a part of this innovative process!

Photo credit: Brittany Hazelman, Pacific Agriculture Policy Project

Blogpost by Solomoni Matthewsella, Social Reporter for the Pacific Community AgriTourism Week 2015.

Copyright © 2016, CTA. Technical Centre for Rural and Agricultural Cooperation

CTA is a joint international institution of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States and the European Union (EU). CTA operates under the framework of the Cotonou Agreement and is funded by the EU.