The projects are being carried out in the Lao People's Democratic Republic and the United Republic of Tanzania. Tourism is expanding in both countries, providing opportunities for linkages between the tourism business and the broader economy, so that greater economic growth can result.
The annual Global Board Meeting between Switzerland's State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and the United Nations Inter-Agency Cluster on Trade and Productive Capacity was held on 28 October at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. The purpose of these meetings is to oversee a series of SECO-financed country projects, the first two of which are the Lao and Tanzanian projects.
The Board is co-chaired by SECO and UNCTAD, and includes the United Nations agencies responsible for agriculture/sustainable tourism projects, such as the International Telecommunication Union, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, the International Labour Organization, and the United Nations Office for Project Services. Also taking part in the Board meeting were representatives of the Lao and Tanzanian Permanent Missions to the United Nations Office at Geneva. The meeting reviewed the progress that has been made in establishing productive linkages between small-scale agricultural producers and the tourist industry.
UNCTAD is the lead agency for the Cluster on Trade and Productive Capacity.
In the Lao People's Democratic Republic, the first phase of the project will conclude in 2014, and preparations are already under way for a second three-year phase that will benefit from a new contribution from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. The total budget of the project is $8 million.
The aim is to link local small-scale farmers with large hotels serving the tourism industry, thus enabling farmers to establish new and reliable markets for their produce and to enter the hotels' supply chains. Currently, many large hotels in the Lao People's Democratic Republic - especially those operated by hotel chains - import much of the food they serve.
In the United Republic of Tanzania, operations will start in 2014 after the validation of a project document by all national stakeholders. These include the relevant government agencies and representatives of the business sector. SECO is contributing $4 million for the Tanzanian project.
The intention in the United Republic of Tanzania is to increase farmers' productive capacities, as well as the quality of goods offered by horticultural and organic producers so that they may be reliably marketed to local hotels. The project will also seek to increase the number and the effectiveness of tourism industry "trainers".
The meeting heard that the lessons learned as part of the Lao project include the importance of institutional capacity-building, policy advice, inter-ministerial coordination and inter-agency complementarities.
These findings will be conveyed to the participants in the Tanzanian project, in part via regular contacts between the Cluster's international project coordinators based in Vientiane and Dar es Salaam.