Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett has announced that, during the first two months of the year, 490 farmers earned approximately J$108 million in revenue via the Agri-Linkages Exchange (ALEX) platform, which was designed to connect small farmers directly with buyers within the tourism industry.
ALEX, the first online platform of its kind in the country, allows farmers to plan better for seasonality in crops and provides information on the geographic location of specific crops.
The minister also noted that, at the close of 2022, produce worth over J$330 million was sold through the ALEX in 2022, benefiting 1,733 farmers and 671 buyers registered on the platform.
Bartlett made the announcement during a ‘Coffee Farmers’ Trade Day’ expo at the University of Technology (UTech) on Tuesday (March 14).
“We have been working on a game-changing technology, by way of ALEX, which is a platform that connects you the small farmers connect directly with the buyers hotels… . That’s a huge development and, for the first two months of the year, $108 million was made,” said the minister.
The success of the platform was celebrated during the recent ‘Coffee Farmers’ Trade Day’ expo, where farmers from Portland, St Andrew, and St Thomas came together to showcase their products. The event was organised by RADA and the Jamaica Agricultural Commodities Regulatory Authority (JACRA), with support from the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF).
“This Farmers’ Day Expo was organised to bring home the stark reality that the opportunity for you [the farmers] to grow, expand, earn, and be prosperous from tourism is now better than it ever was in the history of tourism in Jamaica,” said Bartlett.
The event forms part of the month-long activities for the Blue Mountain Coffee Festival, slated for March 25. Tickets for the festival can be purchased online at www.touchstonelink.com or from authorised vendors, including Blue Brews Bistro, Rituals Coffee House, Starbucks, Cannon Ball Café, Café Blue, Island Coffees Café, and Deaf Can Coffee.
ALEX was a joint venture between the Ministry of Tourism and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) and is said to have transformed the way hoteliers and farmers interact, effectively reducing leakages and ensuring that Jamaica retains more of the economic benefits of tourism.