Chefs are becoming drivers of change in Small Island Developing States (SIDs).
By using local ingredients in creative recipes, they are boosting production of locally-grown produce improving the population’s well-being and increasing opportunities for sustainable tourism – the lifeblood of many of the islands.
A seminar in Brussels seminar in September, “Agribusiness development in SIDs: the potential of tourism-related markets,” brought together chefs from the Pacific and the Caribbean with policy-influencers.
Organised the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group, the European Commission’s Devco, the Centre for Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Cooperation (CTA) and NGO platform CONCORD, it drew attention to the negative impact on national budgets and health of the consumption of cheap, highly-processed, low-nutrition foodstuffs.
Pacific chef, Robert Oliver, of the ‘Chefs for Development’ initiative, said at the event: “I want to look at a plate of food that goes with a view – an approach that goes beyond the plate and beyond the recipe. It’s an approach that is designed to empower chefs and stimulate economies to reclaim tradition and health – and I call this the power of cuisine.”
“In tourism-led economies, menus are the business plan of a nation – where the cuisine goes, agriculture will follow, and if a country can recognise this, everybody wins,” he said.
Haitian chef, Stephan Berrouet Durand, is executive chef of Culinary by Design, an organisation that is promoting local gastronomy and the relationship between agriculture and chefs. Chef Stephan is now part of an exciting new development to link chefs with local farmers using a mobile app.
He explained that this app gives rapid information on the availability of produce from local farmers to the local hospitality industry: “These are the products that we have, this is how much we produce, and this is how you’re going to be able to purchase with us.”
Policy-makers should also do more to create stronger links between local farming in the SIDs and tourism. Vanuatu is progressing towards becoming the first Pacific island country with an agri-tourism policy.