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SNPA goes traditional as part of its COVID response | 08 July 2020

SNPA goes traditional as part of its COVID response

Harvesting the pig yam (‘vya’): (Photo: SNPA)

Hardship brings innovation, sadly for Seychelles sometimes it is not innovations which is lacking, but a need to go back to our old ways of doing things and taking pride and ripping the maximum value from our traditional practices.

The Seychelles National Park Authority (SNPA) is one organisation which has felt the full impact of COVID-19. The organisation which generates over 95% of its revenue from tourism is finding it very hard to operate on a daily basis. There is a real need to diversify products and services SNPA offers but tourism will continue to remain the main earner of the organisation.

Who would have thought that part of the solution to our current problem would come from our past? Indeed SNPA is keen to help local businesses in finding new ways to move ahead, in doing so cutting down on importation and saving our previous little foreign exchange. SNPA also expects to benefit financially or in other non-monetary ways in doing so.

Long ago people used to feed animals with whatever they harvested from nature and from home leftovers. It was common practice for pigs to be fed on fallen fruits, grass, ‘pounac’ and pig yam ‘vya’ (Alocasia macrorrhiza) for examples. The ‘vya’ was boiled before being given to the animals and is apparently nutrient rich. Well ‘vya’ is back!

The SNPA is currently implementing a scheme to provide ‘vya’ to a local farmer on La Digue for animal feed. The farmer is allowed to harvest ‘vya’ from the Veuve Reserve for free, but under close supervision. ‘Vya’ is a confirmed Invasive species, so its removal is assisting SNPA with its restoration work of the reserve. This is a win-win situation but in the process the farmer has cut down on his use of imported animal feed, which in turn benefits the country.

The SNPA is also finalising a second scheme, this time for charcoal burning. This activity also used to be popular in Seychelles but now a significant proportion of the charcoal or charcoal related products we use is imported. The SNPA is finalising sites and conditions under which this business can operate in areas it manages. Again, the SNPA intends to promote the local industry and cut down on importation. For SNPA the benefits are expected to be two-fold – to earn some financial income and to utilise timber that would otherwise go to waste.

The SNPA is not expecting to make significant income from these activities, but it is however happy to do its part to assist local businesses cut down on importation and why not promote cultural practices which are sound and sustainable.

 

Contributed by Selby Remy

 

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