The project will support both islands to develop increased self-reliance on local production through a strengthened sustainable supply and value chain.
Mauritius and Seychelles import 77% and 90% of their food requirements respectively, highlighting the vulnerability of the food systems of the two Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) to external shocks. The Ukraine crisis has exacerbated the food crisis in both countries with the disruption in the supply of food items and also rapidly rising food prices. Following a Call for Proposals from the Joint SDG Fund Development Emergency Modality in June 2022, the United Nations Country Team (UNCT) in Mauritius & Seychelles successfully mobilized resources to support the Governments of Mauritius and Seychelles in building resilient food systems in both countries.
Supporting local production of low-cost bio-fertilisers from seaweeds in Mauritius.
In Mauritius, the Joint Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Fund “Building the Resilience of Food Systems in Mauritius and Seychelles by Leveraging on Sustainable Agricultural Practices” Project will support the country to produce low-cost bio-fertilisers from seaweeds for its food security needs. It aims at reducing the dependence on imported chemical fertilizers and the vulnerability of their food systems to external shocks. As such, a feasibility study will be carried out to explore the economic and technical potential of utilizing seaweed as fertilizers in Mauritius. This project is expected to build capacity of small farmers, fishers and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) on the production and utilization of Seaweed fertilizers.
The project also places a strong emphasis on gender equality and women empowerment in the agricultural sector. In this context, a delegation of experts from UN Women Regional Office for East Africa carried out a series of site visits in Mauritius on 22 August. They first visited a producer of seaweed fertilizer in Gros Cailloux, who manufactures pellets, topsoil, and liquid fertilizers. They were able to get a better understanding of the production process and gather insights on existing opportunities to integrate more local women at all stages of the value chain. They then had the opportunity to meet with a women entrepreneur who owns and manages a hydroponic farm in La Laura. During their discussions, they reflected on existing bottlenecks preventing women from joining agriculture, and opportunities to switch from chemical to natural fertilizers. Insights gathered during these visits will help inform project implementation.
Promoting the use of climate smart agricultural methods and approaches.
The project is also being implemented in Seychelles, where it will support the country in promoting the use of climate smart agricultural methods and approaches. These include, for instance, aquaponics, hydroponics and sheltered farming, and will target smallholder farmers and households in view to increase the production of local food and reduce reliance on imported products. Interventions under this project will include the analysis of the technical, economic and financial barriers on the deployment of climate smart agricultural methods and approaches in Seychelles. The project will involve capacity building of smallholder farmers, households and vulnerable groups such as unemployed women and youth. A demonstration project of Climate Smart Agricultural practices will also be set up.
During their mission to Seychelles, the UN Women mission carried out several site visits from 25-27 August, on Mahe and Praslin. They met with Women’s Groups and NGOs involved in the agricultural sector, carried out site visits at Val d’Endorre and met with watershed communities, and had a diplomatic meeting with the Minister of Family Affairs and Youth. During their trip to Praslin, an outer island, they had the opportunity to visit four farms, two of which were operated by women, and a seaweed fertilizer factory. The farmers acknowledged the need for an upgrade in mechanized farming, which is not well developed on the island and currently represents a challenge for women. This was an opportunity for the delegation to explore how farmers, especially women, are adopting climate smart agriculture practices. It also enabled them to explore areas that require training to which the institution can assist in the future.
An opportunity for South-South Collaboration between Mauritius & Seychelles.
The first technical meetings for the Joint Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Fund “Building the Resilience of Food Systems in Mauritius and Seychelles by Leveraging on Sustainable Agricultural Practices” Project were held on 23 August 2022 in Mauritius and on 25th August 2022 in Seychelles. As the SDG joint programme has short duration of only 6 months (July to Dec 2022), the technical inception meetings aimed at kickstarting implementation.
In Mauritius, the technical inception meeting was attended by key Government technical officers from the Ministry of Agro Industry and Food Security, Ministry of Blue Economy, Fisheries, Marine Resources and Shipping, the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Solid waste management, the Ministry of Gender and Children Welfare, the Food and Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (FAREI), Mauritius Research and Innovation Council (MRIC) as well as key Non-Governmental Organizations. In Seychelles, the technical inception meeting was comprised of officers from Ministry of Family, Youth and Sport, Ministry of Agriculture, Climate Change and Environment, Seychelles Institute of Agriculture and Horticulture (SIAH), University of Seychelles, and Small Grant Programme (SGP).
Both meetings were facilitated by officials from three UN agencies, namely the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UN Women and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of United Nations (UNFAO), coordinated by United Nations Resident Coordinator’s Office (UNRCO) for Mauritius and Seychelles. This project represents an opportunity to strengthen South-South collaboration between Mauritius and Seychelles on sustainable agricultural practices and climate smart agriculture.
Originally published on UNDP