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Local farmers introduced to modern scientific techniques in agriculture | 20 November 2019

Local farmers introduced to modern scientific techniques in agriculture

Delegates and guests in a souvenir photograph after the official opening of the workshop (Photo: Anel Robert)

The Seychelles Agricultural Agency (SAA) partnered with the United States embassy to organise a workshop yesterday on using modern agricultural biotechnology techniques in local farming.

The event was hosted at the Eden Bleu Hotel with the participation of a number of farmers and other stakeholders in the agricultural sector.

Agricultural biotechnology is a collection of scientific techniques to improve plants and animals or develop microorganisms for agricultural uses.

Biotechnology can be used to develop stress tolerant and more nutritious crop varieties to protect natural resources and human health.

Agricultural biotechnology has enabled farmers to improve farming techniques and crop production around the world by increasing plants’ resistance to diseases and pests, reducing pesticide applications, and maintaining and improving crop yields.

Examples of biotechnology practices that are already being implemented in the Seychelles is the use of tissue-cultured plants to allow for the reproduction of disease-free plants, pheromone traps that are used for controlling pests, bio pesticides and bio-fertilisers.

The workshop was led by agricultural advisor within the Economic and Business Affairs Bureau in the US Department of State, Dr Samuel Crowell.

Throughout yesterday’s workshop, Dr Crowell covered a number of issues related to food security, increasing agricultural sustainability, reduction of pesticides and how to increase farmer income.

“We see engaging in agricultural innovation as one of the pillars for food security and for cooperation between the United States and the Seychelles,” Dr Crowell highlighted.

“Within the United States, we have been using modern agricultural biotechnology for well over 25 years. To date, we have a number of crops which our farmers grow everyday and which consumers can consume safely and we are not alone; there are over 25 countries in the world that grow these products and more than 44 countries that import them,” Dr Crowell noted.

He noted those agricultural biotechnology products are known to be safe for consumption.

The workshop was officially launched by the Minister for Fisheries and Agriculture, Charles Bastienne.

In his remarks, Minister Bastienne said that his ministry and affiliated agencies are looking into the possibility of introducing affordable biotechnology innovations in the national agricultural sector to boost food production.

“We should come out of this workshop enlightened, with a clear appreciation of how to make agricultural production cheaper and more efficient, to permit higher crop yield, to limit use of pesticides and to enhance nutritional contents of agricultural produce,” he concluded.

Meanwhile, the US ambassador to the Seychelles, David Reimer, said that the potential is enormous for local farmers, producers and consumers to benefit from agricultural technology.

Having visited various ministries and agencies on Monday, Dr Crowell will also be visiting a number of farms across Mahé to better understand the local agricultural sector and how it can adapt to biotech innovations.

 

Elsie Pointe

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