Head Chef at an ultra-luxury hotel in Grenada has called for greater investment in the agriculture sector if the country is serious about high-end tourism.
In an exclusive interview, Culinary Director at Silver Sands Resort, Jean Louis Brocardi said the Grenada Government of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell needs to provide more support to farmers.
He stated that in order to meet the needs of the high-end hotels that Grenada wants to attract, the State must do more to grow the agriculture sector.
Brocardi expressed concern that although the hotel has developed local farming partnership the fact is that variety and consistency of supply remains a problem.
Despite continuous pronouncements by government officials regarding the importance of a marriage between the all important tourism sector and farming, Grenada is seeing not only falling agriculture exports but regular shortages on the local market also.
As a result, hotels and restaurants on the island rely heavily on agricultural imports. The sector is affected by weather conditions and a lack of major investment.
The Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank has projected Grenada’s growth to fall in 2019 and is attributing this to falling agriculture production.
Brocardi suggested that Grenada should invest heavily in systems that would allow reliable supplies of local produce.
“When my guests come, I can’t tell them I don’t have tomatoes. I must have tomatoes”, he remarked.
A beachfront villa at Silver Sands will run you US$16,000.00 per night. For one night’s stay at a Penthouse Suite it is US$6, 000.00.
Brocardi said that attracting this type of market requires Grenada to up its game in agricultural production.
Grenada’s Citizen By Investment programme is being seen as the gateway to attract more and more high-end hotel brands but hardly any money is being spent to support farming.
Recently, government announced that the Six Senses Brand will come to Grenada and the Royalton will open on the old Rex Grenadian property with 271 rooms.
Brocardi said: “If you want to thrive in the tourism industry you have to understand that you have to import. Reinvest and develop agriculture. Build green houses and hot houses so they are not so influenced by weather.”
However, Brocardi who worked as a corporate chef before joining Silver Sands last year, acknowledged that the quality of local produce is good most of the times.
Grenada depends heavily on tourism for a major portion of its foreign exchange earnings but the poor state of agriculture also means rising food import bill.
According to the Chef, Silver Sands Resort is now working on importing avocados because there is not a year-round supply on the island.
“We would have to accept that Grenada will not be able to supply the demand,” he remarked.
Brocardi explained that their demand for produce includes the staff cafeteria but they also find it difficult to get things like breadfruit, which is seasonal in Grenada.
Occupancy level at the four star resort is currently low but Brocardi said Silver Sands is purchasing about two thousand pounds of produce weekly from local farmers, most of which is used for staff meals.
At high occupancy levels, Silver Sands would need four thousand pounds per week to feed its luxury guests and employees.
Silver Sands has just over fifty suites, rooms and villas open for occupancy and more villas will come on the market this year.
The resort has a staff of 240, with the upper and middle management positions accounting for twenty-six.