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An integrated circular economy between the tourism and farming sectors in Trelawny, Jamaica

We aim to deliver a sustainable and resilient tourism food system in Jamaica.

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Lead Applicant Organization Name

The AgriShare Company Limited

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Small company (under 50 employees)

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.

The CaribShare Company Limited - a not for profit dedicated to the promotion and advancement of biogas technology and other climate change solutions in Jamaica; The Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) - the agricultural field extension agency under the Ministry of Agriculture in Jamaica; 1-3 hotel beneficiaries in Trelawny; 1-2 cruise lines beneficiaries docking in Falmouth Port.

Website of Legally Registered Entity

www.agrishareja.com

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 3-10 years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Falmouth

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?

Jamaica

Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

The parish of Trelawny which has an estimated area of 874 km2.

What country is your selected Place located in?

Jamaica

Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

I grew up in the north coast region of Jamaica, an area blessed with immense natural beauty. Traditionally, the major tourism belt of the country, it is inclusive of the popular Montego Bay and Ocho Rios destinations.  Trelawny is one of the parishes in this region and is considered to be the least developed.  However, Trelawny will be the recipient of several new and big scale resort developments within the next few years.  With the addition of over 15,000 new hotel rooms, Trelawny will possess the largest block of formal accommodation in the country. 

As such, I have chosen to base my social enterprise and food waste recycling business, AgriShare, there.  With the significant change and massive tourism growth expected, the Place serves as an outstanding opportunity for AgriShare to help instill a more sustainable local tourism food system by bridging a circular economy between the thriving tourism and latent farming sectors there. 

 Personally invested in and committed to the long term sustainable development of the region, I am also a teacher at the all-girl Westwood High School, a leading educational institution in Trelawny.  I teach the Tourism, Entrepreneurship, and Economics curriculum at the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) level for their senior students.

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

Trelawny is a parish in the county of Cornwall in the north coast of Jamaica.  Its capital is Falmouth.  Historically, Trelawny is best known for its sugar estates and sugar cane mills.  It had more sugar estates than any other parish, so there was need for a sea coast town to export it.  And so, Falmouth became a thriving seaport centre.  It has an area of 874 km², making it the fifth largest parish on the island with a population of 75,558 as of 2012.

The southern section of Trelawny is part of the Cockpit Country, a unique natural and precious reserve for flora and fauna.  Most of Jamaica's 27 endemic bird species can be found there, along with yellow snakes, and the giant swallowtail butterfly, the largest butterfly in the western hemisphere.  Its main rivers -the Martha Brae, Rio Bueno, Cane and Quashie Rivers also serve as major and essential water sources for the country.

Trelawny's sources of employment are based on primarily tourism and agriculture with some manufacturing.  Rum, sugar, and yams are Trelawny's principal products.  Two of the eight remaining sugar factories in Jamaica are in Trelawny —Hampden Sugar Factory, and Trelawny Sugar, formerly Long Pond Sugar Factory.  Though the fishing industry is declining, Trelawny still produces a large amount of fish. There are ten beaches along the coast, with more than 30 boats each, as well as 27 fish ponds.

Traditionally, Trelawny has been the least developed parish in the north coast tourism belt.  However, it is now becoming a hotbed for massive tourism growth.  Within the next few years, Trelawny is expected to add over 15,000 new hotel rooms from 3 major resort developments, offering the largest block of formal accommodation in the sector.

In recent years too, the port at Falmouth has become a leader in cruise tourism.  Jamaica welcomed just over 1.2 million cruise visitors in 2018, of which Falmouth got the greatest share (40%) over the other 2 major ports of Ocho Rios and Montego Bay.  This trend is expected to continue as the coveted Western Caribbean itinerary for the major cruise lines, featuring Falmouth, George Town (Cayman) and Labadee (Haiti), has distinguished itself as the best and most exciting combination of islands for cruise shippers.

 With such rapid change expected, the need for Trelawny to manage its growth sustainably and build its climate resilience is particularly crucial and potent.   In addition, the need to broaden the positive local impact and socio-economic benefits from tourism is just as paramount.

What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)

874

What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?

75558

Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

As a small island developing state, Jamaica does not have the range of climatic and geo-physical conditions needed to be self-sufficient in food production.  As such, its import food bill is quite high, which in 2018, stood at US$ 902.3 million.  And, of this number, a significant portion of imported food is to support the thriving tourism industry. 

And so, a great opportunity exists to reduce Jamaica’s dependence on imported food by increasing the local food production for the tourist industry.  A Tourism Demand Study (2015) commissioned by the Ministry of Tourism revealed that fruit, fresh herbs, and vegetables are the produce categories in highest demand by the hotel sector.  Some local farms do directly supply these food items to the industry.  However, the major suppliers tend to be local food distributors that typically purchase the majority of their produce from foreign sources, although Jamaica has the right agronomic conditions to grow them.

The current challenge (2020) for local farmers is the lack of equitable access to market.  Large food distributors dominate the tourism food system.  And, they tend to purchase local produce primarily from a few commercial farms, excluding the widespread small farming community from the system.  And, if a distributor buys from a small farmer, the price offered is often below market in order for the distributor to make their profit.  Having no market power, the farmer is then inclined to accept the unfavorable term.  Essentially, the small farming communities that are located around and in very close proximity to the hotels have little or no access to these markets, resulting in a lost opportunity for strengthening farming livelihoods and reducing rural poverty.

Hotels in turn prefer to purchase from food distributors due to their need to purchase produce in large quantities that are consistent in supply and quality.  Unfortunately, small farmers individually cannot provide this need effectively, further explaining their low inclusion in the tourism food system.

Another current challenge to the tourism food system is to reduce AND recycle the tremendous quantities of food waste generated by the industry, hotels and cruise ships alike.  Food waste, if not properly treated and recycled become a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions at landfills.  

 The future challenge (2050) faced is to maintain a robust and resilient food system for all in light of worsening and continuous climate change impacts.  Today, local food production is already been challenged by such severe impacts like unpredictable rainfall, longer droughts, declining soil fertility, and increased pest infestation.  Furthermore, due to challenges with access to market and strong competition from agricultural imports, fewer people are choosing to farm or to work in the agricultural sector.

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

The Vision of AgriShare is an integrated circular economy between the tourism and farming sectors in Trelawny, Jamaica.

Firstly, AgriShare will collect and recycle food waste from Trelawny hotels and cruise ships docking in the Falmouth port.  Using a combination of digesters and composting methods, it will turn the food waste into biogas, organic fertilizer, and compost.

AgriShare will then work with and donate the organic fertilizer produced to small farming communities in Trelawny to help them improve crop yields and become more climate resilient.  The use of organic fertilizer is a key climate smart agricultural technique for restoring and maintaining soil fertility in light of increasing droughty conditions from climate change.

And, finally, AgriShare will close the recycling loop by acting as an agricultural marketing cooperative for these farmers.  By directing the crops to be grown as demanded by the tourist industry and by aggregating the produce from the farmers, AgriShare will be able to act as a local food distributor with this pooled capacity and sell the produce to the hotels on the farmers’ behalf.  As its business model is different from the typical food distributor, AgriShare will be able to offer the small farmers a fair price, thereby helping to strengthen their livelihoods.  Its business model differs in having additional revenue streams from biogas and fertilizer sales.  By its trusted relationships with the farmers and the Rural Agricultural Development Agency (RADA - agricultural field extension agency), AgriShare will also work to assure that the crops are consistent in meeting the quantity needs and quality standards of the hotel buyers. 

In this way, AgriShare solves the issue of local farmers’ inequitable access to the tourism food system, drives food waste reduction, donations, and recycling efforts in the tourist industry, and promotes climate smart agriculture, while creating a sustainable circular economy.

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

By creating an integrated circular economy between the tourism and farming sectors in Trelawny, AgriShare demonstrates a model for sustainable food waste management as well as responsible and inclusive tourism that can be replicated in the other parishes across Jamaica’s north coast tourism belt.

The declining agricultural sector will be revived from the direct linkage to the growing tourist market.  Local food production will be bolstered, dependence on food imports will fall, and rural poverty will be less pervasive.  Agriculture and not only tourism will now seem be as a more secure employment option for Trelawny and north coast residents.  And, with more persons farming and with more youth especially taking part in agriculture, the local food system will become more robust and resilient in the years to come.  Both locals and tourists alike will have better access to local foods.  We know that local food is fresher, tastes better and is likely more nutritious.  Furthermore, locals will feel that they are more directly benefiting from the tourist industry, and likewise tourists will be assured that are directly helping local farmers and contributing to positive social impact in Jamaica.

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

By developing a sustainable circular economy between the tourism and farming sectors in Trelawny, the six interconnected Vision shaping themes as well as the key components for building a resilient tourism food system will be cultivated in the process as well:

Environment

AgriShare’s organic waste reducing and recycling program will ensure that food waste from the participating hotels and cruise lines will no longer be a source of greenhouse gas emissions.  Instead, the waste will be turned into biogas (a clean and renewable fuel), organic fertilizer, and soil enhancing products.

AgriShare’ organic fertilizer and soil enhancing products will ensure that the farming sector, and particularly the small farming community will have an effective and environmentally friendly means to restore and maintain declining soil fertility in light of the negative impacts of climate change on agriculture.

Economics

Through AgriShare and with the assistance of our partner, the Rural Agricultural Development Agency (RADA), farmers will be able to access the tourist market and receive a fair price for their produce.  The economic prosperity and gains from the tourism sector will be leveraged to ensure farming livelihoods are secure and financially viable. 

Culture

As a result, rural communities will in turn thrive, reviving the traditional sharing farming culture that traditionally had distinguished these communities.  And, at the same time, more persons and especially the youth will be encouraged to become farmers.

Technology

AgriShare’s organic waste reducing and recycling initiatives bring together the marriage of both new and old technology to deliver a holistic and sustainable food waste management program.  New artificial intelligence technology solutions are now able to precisely track, monitor, and facilitate the reduction of food waste.  Proven and “old” technologies, such as anaerobic digestion (digesters) are able to convert food waste into useful outputs – biogas and organic fertilizer.

Diet

A resilient tourism food system will deliver increased local food production for the tourist industry…which in turn would extend to the local population, providing fresher and hence more nutritious food for them as well.

Policy

In partnership with CaribShare, the success of the AgriShare’s tourism food system would in turn influence and champion the necessary policy needed to mainstream recycling, starting with the tourist industry before extending to other sectors on the economy.  Currently, recycling is not mandated in Jamaica.

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