Assembly calls for broad review of agricultural sector


20-March-2013

Such a review will also allow for the various challenges threatening our food security and a very important sector of our economy to be addressed, the motion tabled by elected member for Grand Anse Praslin Marc Volcère states.

Presenting the motion Mr Volcère , whose district was once upon a time a success story and self-sufficient in various agricultural produce, namely vegetables, said it is time to look seriously at the sector which is crucial if we want to have and maintain food security to benefit our people and our economy.

“I believe the motion will further bring the government, partners and all stakeholders, including the population concerned, to realise the importance of the sector and give it its due importance and the rightful place it deserves,” said Mr Volcère.

After giving an overview of the agricultural successes of our farmers several years back Mr Volcère said today the mostly asked questions are: What has happened to the sector? Where have we gone wrong? And what has led to the situation we are in now?

He said all international experts who have visited Seychelles recently have expressed the same view that the sector is in this present state due to years of neglect made worse by liberalisation a couple of years ago.

He noted that this is why the motion is asking the government  to carry out the review to establish once and for all what has really happened and what can be done to redress the situation.

“When the review is being carried out, it will be important that all sectors and actors having something to do with agriculture are consulted in order to come up with the best solutions to address as soon as possible the problems the sector is facing,” said Mr Volcère.

“In doing so we need to tackle all these problems from their sources and this will include giving the right education and training to young people to encourage them to make a career in this sector as existing farmers are reaching retirement age, carry out studies on the future manpower needs of the sector,” Mr Volcère stressed.

He noted it is therefore clear that there is a need for younger and, more importantly, committed and enthusiastic young people to join the sector.
Mr Volcère pointed out that according to statistics we are at present only producing approximately 50% of food for the local demand.

Mr Volcère gave a review of all the different constraints the agriculture industry has gone through over the years especially its livestock sector and noted that the situation is still getting worse in spite of all the different steps being taken recently by the government to reverse the situation.

“I appreciate and recognise all efforts underway to revamp the industry: different forums, workshops, visits by international partners who want to help, with the more recent visit of Comesa representatives and the president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (Ifad) Kanyo F. Nwanze. But this is not enough as a lot more need to be done and should be done quickly,” said Mr Volcère.

He said we need to see some concrete actions to stop the industry from its continued decline while the country continues working more closely with its partners – both locally and internationally – so as to obtain all the support it needs to sustain the sector.

All the MNAs who intervened on the motion pointed out the various factors affecting the industry which range from constant neglect, lack of support from the authorities, difficult access to credit for agriculture development by small farmers, high cost of local production, tough competition from imported products, among many others. They were unanimous in calling on the government to urgently address the situation.

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