Young farmer racing to meet tourism sector demandThursday, July 29, 2021
BY KASEY WILLIAMS
For months, 27-year-old Tarique Bennett waited for the return of tourism. Now he's racing to meet the demands of the sector which provides earnings for thousands, including farmers like himself.
“I can't complain; the demand has been really high. Things were uncertain before, but with tourism opening up, the demand has been remarkable,” he told LetsTravelCaribbean.com during a recent tour of farms in Cobbla and nearby communities in Mandeville's north-east.
Through his supply network, Bennett sends his produce to the western end of the island.
“I supply hotels like Couples Swept Away, Negril and Azul Beach Resort, [as well as] supermarkets, restaurants, and even the local market,” he added.
On farmland spanning three acres he has planted several crops, but mainly focuses on lettuce, 1,000 pounds of which he supplies each month to hotels in the west.
“I normally do Scotch bonnet pepper, sweet pepper, carrot, cabbage, kale, parsley — any little thing that I can put my hands on — but mainly iceberg lettuce, romaine lettuce and red romaine lettuce,” said Bennett.
He's happy to see the reopening of the tourism sector in recent months and is eager to meet the demand for vegetables.
“Earlier in the year, in January, I had a lot of lettuce… and at that time the hotels were still down. After that period I had to reduce the amount that I would plant because of the uncertainty. But since the summer, [with] the hotels reopened, the demand for vegetables, [for] food on a whole, has [gone] up,” he said.
Bennett is widely known in his community as he collaborates with other farmers to supply the tourism sector with a range of crops, including sweet potatoes.
The young man explained that he grew up in a farming family and quickly developed a passion for tilling the soil.
“It's been a family tradition… I have been farming for about six years. Farming is something that I naturally love. It is the first business that I ever tried. When you [plant] a crop and you watch it grow through each stage and you reap, it is really [satisfying],” he said with a huge grin.
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