Ifad president meets stakeholders in food production-‘Self-reliance in food crucial’


Mr Nwanze and Seychelles hosts on a tour of the Seychelles Agricultural and Horticultural Centre during his visit here

The meeting, held at the Le Meridien Barbarons Hotel, was also attended by Natural Resources and Industry Minister Peter Sinon and Ifad’s director for Eastern and Southern Africa, Perin St Ange.

Mr Sinon said self-reliance in food is very important, as some countries which used to export a lot of staple foods such as rice have stopped, retaining these to feed their own populations.
He said Seychelles has the know-how to increase food production and given the enabling environment, a lot of food, notably broiler chicken, pork, eggs, vegetables and fruits can be produced locally.

He was joined by Mr Nwanze, who gave some statistics to show that global food security is not getting better.
The delegates were given some statistics which were rather shocking. Presently only two out of 16 broiler farmers are still in production.  Only four of the 32 farmers engaged in fattening pigs are still operational.

Though Seychelles is still producing virtually 100% of its table eggs, it is obvious that we have seen better days.
The special advisor to the minister, Antoine-Marie Moustache, said agricultural production peaked in 2006, the year preceding the local upheavals.  Presently, Seychelles is producing only 29% of its pork needs and 10% of its broiler chicken.

They blamed the situation on the global economic downturn, which coincided with the launching of Seychelles’ own macro-economic reform programme, which caused the local rupee to lose half its value, but above all on the liberalisation of livestock products. Consequently, the local competitiveness was lost.

Mr Moustache noted that vegetable and fruit growing is very much tied to livestock production. He said if livestock production continues to go down, this would seriously threaten food security.
Farmers were told that there are 345 hectares of land under cultivation and that the average garden was half an hectare in size.  About 7,000 or a third of homes in Seychelles are engaged in some backyard production, which contributes a little to the economy.

Mr Moustache said proposals to take over some forested areas for livestock had been considered, but since most parks are in water catchment areas, they were found not feasible.

Herve Morin Adeline, owner of “Vision Farm” presented a farmer’s perspective. He said his farm used to produce 50,000 broiler chickens -- or 400 tons. The present output is down to 10% only.

Most delegates agree that the only sure way to succeed to is to make farms more efficient and create an enabling environment to boost production. Some farmers said that levies on imported meat should be increased.  

India was said to be a good and reliable source of some inputs for animal feed, such as maize and soya.
Ifad is to assist Seychelles with US $3 million. The farmers said it is hoped they will receive some assistance to allow their farms to perform better.