Assessing Domestic Demand for Organic and ‘Locally Grown' Produce on An ‘Organic Island': Dominica's Dilemma
The economy of Dominica faces a unique set of challenges. As with many other Caribbean nations, Dominica has historically been dependent upon agriculture. Over the past several hundred years, the island's economy has been largely supported through the concentrated mono-cropping of a variety of export-oriented crops including coffee, limes, vanilla, and bananas (FAVACA, 2008). Today, approximately 45% of Dominica's labor force is employed in the agricultural sector (FAVACA, 2008). While neighboring countries have economically benefited from tourism, due to its lack of white sand beaches, Dominica is not a typical tourist destination. Taking advantage of its landscape, rainforests, and diversity of natural wildlife, in an effort to diversify its economy Dominica has instead catered to eco-/wellness tourists. Bridging its agricultural foundations with the ecological preservation needed to support its tourist industry, the government of Dominica has signaled its interest in transforming Dominica into an Organic Island (‘Organic Dominica') by 2015. Through this initiative, sustainable, organic agricultural production methods will be encouraged. Complementing this, a ‘Buy Organic, Locally Grown' campaign has been proposed to encourage domestic and regional consumption of Dominica's agricultural outputs and food products. As such, ‘Organic Dominica' has the potential to simultaneously address ongoing national concerns surrounding food security, foreign exchange availability, domestic un/underemployment, and environmental preservation. Before and since proposing this policy, surveys were conducted to identity the major stakeholders in (organic) agricultural production, and current and potential markets for organic production. It remains, however, to quantify Dominica's capacity to produce organic goods, the scale of the potential market, and the price premia that organic production could command. This information is critical to determining the appropriate initial level of producer support and marketing programs required to successfully promote the production and consumption of Dominica's organic outputs and propel Dominica toward the desired status of a model ‘Organic Island'.
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