Seychelles leads in key regional agriculture plan


19-September-2011

Seychelles representatives, led by Vice-President Faure, pledging government’s commitment to the   requirements of the CAADP initiative

 

Also to sign were representatives of major international, regional and national bodies including the African Union Commission, the New Partnership for Africa's Planning and Coordinating Agency, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa), The African Development Bank, the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), the Seychelles Farmers’ Association, the Seychelles Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Liaison Unit for Non-governmental Organisations.

Seychelles now joins Kenya, Zambia, Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia, Swaziland, Uganda, Malawi and the Democratic Republic of Congo who are already implementing provisions of CAADP which other countries are also expected to commit themselves to.

CAADP encourages African governments to increase national budgetary allocation to the agriculture sector to at least 10% annually, to enable a minimum sectoral growth of 6% saying it has the potential to address some of the major challenges currently facing African agriculture.

Comesa has listed the hurdles as food security including low production and productivity, low access to markets, inadequate infrastructure, human and natural induced disasters, climate change, high food prices, trade barriers and many more.

The delegates noted that President James Michel listed the challenges during the last food and climate summit held at the FAO headquarters in Rome.

Mr Michel had added the unique problems to island nations like scarcity of land and land salination from sea level rise, saying Seychelles is refocusing its food security strategy towards increasing agricultural output, reducing bottlenecks, stimulating private sector investment and encouraging better use of technology and adaptation to climate change to improve yields noting we cannot achieve these goals without the support of the international community.

The chief executive of the Islands Development Company Glenny Savy and of the Seychelles Agricultural Agency Antoine-Marie Moustache signed a memorandum of understanding saying the IDC will make more land available for farming on the outer islands.

Mr Faure was lauded for showing government commitment by opening the forum in the morning, attending to other matters at State House and returning to Le Meridien Barbarons Resort to personally pledge government’s commitment to the requirements of the initiative.

He said recent events where the world’s major food producers have been facing the wrath of climate change with wild fires in places like Russia, destroying huge plantations, floods and droughts in other places like Asia and the Americas have also contributed to the world food shortages.

“More recently we have heard of the outbreak of diseases, spreading uncertainty about the sources of food and giving further cause for concerns about food availability, not only for Seychelles, but the world over,” he said.

“This is why we need to relook at our food security, strategies and policies in the light of these recent events and our preparedness to face uncertainties ahead of us.”

Added storage facilities may be one of the solutions, he said, but noted it cannot be the only solution for with the amount of uncertainties we face, it cannot be wise to place all our eggs in that single basket.

“Local production gives the country far greater independence and allows issues such as employment to be addressed, and gives productive business opportunities to the more entrepreneurial minds among us, thus contributing to real economic growth in the process.

“It must be accepted though that local production for food security cannot be achieved at all cost. Clearly whatever is produced must be at affordable prices and of at least minimum standards and hence the need to continuously improve productivity and competitiveness against imported products cannot be over emphasised,” he said.

He said the government acknowledges its obligation to contribute to creating as conducive an environment for local production as possible, adding it divested out of a number of livestock production entities and infrastructure in 2009.

“Those infrastructures included the feed meal factory, the abattoir and the hatchery which were transferred for a token fee of R1 to the Seychelles Farmers Marketing Cooperative to operate.

“The expectation was that the factory, abattoir and hatchery would be run more effectively and efficiently for the benefit of their members, bring down costs and ultimately benefit the end consumer with more affordable livestock and livestock products.
“The reality on the ground however, continues to remain very challenging, as farmers face stiff competition from imported products.

“Government’s effective response measures should, therefore, be about enhancing the capacity of producers and the institutions that provide support along the food system for them to be resilient and sustainable.  One example of this support is the establishment of the Livestock Trust Fund and the Farmers Insurance Fund,” he said.

A souvenir photograph of delegates who attended the forum on Friday

Mr Faure thanked the bilateral, regional and international partners represented at the forum and urged them and others to continue supporting Seychelles in the development of its agricultural sector.

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