Large tourism businesses can without realising it leave the ‘small man’ at a loss as to how he can climb the financial income ladder and gain access to the lucrative tourist pound in many poorer countries around the world.
A charity working in The Gambia and in other countries is trying to put that in-balance right. There aim is to try to get the local small farmers a hand to get their hands, on the often large revenue from tourism in their own country.
The Travel Foundation has been backing a whole range of projects in The Gambia. The GIG Farm or ‘Gambia is Good’ scheme allows small farmers, growers and even a beekeeping business buzzing with chances to gain income from tourists visiting from nearby hotels and general tourism in their own country.
Small farmers are being given funds to literally set out their stalls. By providing financing for them to buy materials to make stalls and displays so they can be more effective in how they market their produce to the tourists. By being able to display their goods in areas that tourists frequent and present their best produce to encourage them to spend their money on locally produced fruits and goods outside of their hotel complexs.
Farmers receive tools, advice and contacts from the cooperative organisation to assist them to sell some of the produce direct into hotels and restaurants too. The places where they can get better prices than in the local markets. Some of their best items can then command top prices as the hotels get the freshest of fruit and veg that the country can produce and in turn the guests get a great chance to enjoy local produce and more importantly give back to local farmers and gardeners.
SMALL FARMERS DIVERSE INTO HONEY PRODUCTION
A bee-keeping enterprise at Sifoe Kafo Farm has now got tourists flocking to see the work done at this Gambian collective style project where a whole range of men and women benefit from their industrious insect’s work. Visitors will pay good money for honey produce and other products when they visit on excursions. A boost for their village community from an income that was not there before the charity got involved. It’s a business thats sustainable and can develop further slowly for the benefit of the whole community for years to come.
Getting the tourists and these village gardeners together is sometimes a challenge however The Travel Foundation is working hard to find more ways of gaining access to the tourist pound for the people they support. In getting a greater and diverse number of people access to those whom it would normally by-pass.
Gambia is Good is a small holding garden scheme near the main airport in the country. The fields of well tended produce are grown by an ever enthusiastic team of farmers, gardeners both men and women leaning skills in horticulture; be it watering techniques, ways to easily increase the lands fertility and plant propagation ideas.
These skills are taken back to the communities by the trainees and are passed onto neighbours to bring yet more crop production potential back to their village. By growing out of season crops a community can sell at a premium to local hotels and raise their income considerably, rather than by growing regular crops for much small returns in their local markets.
Getting the growers into their training schemes and assisting them in ways to progress them out of poverty by more focussed productivity, marketing and selling techniques, they can then obtain the very best returns for all their hard efforts. The charity members find it very rewarding and the skills they pass on will last their clients for life and the lives of their extended families too.
The Travel Foundation is getting many of these Gambian farmers and bee-keepers on the road to a better life for a more sustainable and productive one for the land on which they grow their crops.
The Gambia is Good initiative now supplies many of the hotels in the main resorts, collecting and selling fresh produce from community farms.
* 414 people have been trained.
* 55 extension workers train other farmers.
* Thirty tonnes of vegetables were sold to the tourism industry in year one.
* New crop varieties have been successfully trialled, achieving higher yields and improving the quality and quantity of produce.
* Income has increased by as much as 300%.
* The first season saw 400 visitors who saw fresh produce being grown, visited the bee keeping village and enjoyed lunch served with locally produced jams and juices. A real taste of The Gambia