Small-scale farming in Seychelles ‘encouraging’


30-July-2012

Harvesting pawpaw in a backyard garden. The census has noted a large number of households in Seychelles with fruit trees and vegetables in their yards and gardensThis was said by consultant David Marshall, contracted to help carry out a census on agriculture in Seychelles.

An initiative of the Seychelles Agricultural Agency (SAA), the census was financed by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, and was led by Mr Marshall and also local consultant Helena de Letourdie.

In a recent presentation of the census findings, Mr Marshall said it was very encouraging to note a large number of houses in Seychelles with fruit trees and vegetables – like chilli, mango, papaya, orange, lemon, bananas and others.

“People with these plants in their yards and gardens might not necessarily see this as farming, but in terms of production it is very important,” he said.

Collection of the census data took about three months – from August to November last year -- and focused on areas like crop production, number of animals, land use, land tenure, structure of the agriculture sector.

Among those who attended the presentation of the census findings included the principal secretary for natural resources and industry Michel Nalletamby, chief executive of the National Bureau of Statistics Laura Ah-Time, and chief executive of the SAA Marc naiken.

The census established that there are more or less the same number people who are farming as a business.

This is more or less the same number of people who have been doing this for years, leading the SAA to believe that farming is especially due to the limitations of land available for agriculture in Seychelles. 

“Agriculture in Seychelles does not appear to be declining, it appears to be rather stable and with farmers using improved technology, improved seeds and techniques with the same amount of land, we should be getting increased production,” said Mr Marshall.

He noted that consistency of production is a problem, with not all crops available all year round.

“The most important thing now is for the SAA to monitor the situation and to collect information on agricultural production,” he said.

Ms Ah-Time said through the census, they now have a “specialised” statistical operation for collecting, processing and disseminating data on the structure of agriculture, covering the whole of Seychelles.

“By integrating an agriculture census within our national system, we are providing additional and more industry and sector-specific information to our users. Detailed and up-to-date information will inform the relevant authorities and society about the size and importance of agriculture; allow for better decisions and policies to be taken at different levels of ‘agricultural economy’ management; permit for the control and evaluation of the tasks completed in the agricultural plan; and also facilitate the undertaking of scientific research activities,” she said.

The census information additionally will provide for comparability of information over time and for long-term monitoring of changes in agricultural activity in Seychelles.

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