Seychelles' Islands Development Company working on sustainable farming
(Seychelles News Agency) - Desroches Island in Seychelles is being used as a trial run for agriculture and some specialists are working with the state-owned Islands Development Company (IDC) to come up with better and more sustainable farming methods.
The chief executive of IDC, Glenny Savy, told reporters last week that "at the moment, we are harvesting around 300-400 kilogrammes of tomatoes, which is the first time that we have been able to produce tomatoes during the rainy season, which shows that these new techniques are indeed working."
Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, has two seasons: the Northwest monsoon from November to April when it is rainy and humid, and the Southeast monsoon from May to October when it is dry and windy.
The production of tomatoes locally during the Northwest Monsoon is expected to help the country to cut down on importation during that time. Desroches is powered by solar energy, so operating greenhouses is cheaper.
Savy added that they have a contract with an Israel-based company that is undertaking a feasibility study on both Coetivy and Desroches islands. The results have shown that both islands are suitable for large-scale farming.
Covering 394 hectares, Desroches is the largest island in the Amirantes group and the closest to the granitic islands, lying 230 kilometres southwest of Victoria, the capital of Seychelles. The island is home to a resort of the Four Seasons hotel chain.
Coetivy is the largest coral island of Seychelles at 931 hectares and was traditionally used for agriculture and once used as a prison facility. It now has a pilot project for prawn farming.
Savy said that ensuring there is food security for the local population is a priority for IDC's agriculture programmes on the outer islands.
"We want to be able to produce a good amount of food on the islands so that if we ever face a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic again, we will be able to sustain ourselves with local produce," said the CEO.
Large-scale farming on the outer islands of the archipelago has now been talked about for many years, with the island of Coetivy being the primary location targeted.
Savy said there has been some interest from farmers who will like to take up the challenge of growing crops on these islands.
"There a few individuals who have shown interest in farming on the outer islands and we have been talking to them. During the year, they can start working on the soil to get it ready," he explained.
Agriculture was once done on a large scale on several islands including Coetivy, Silhouette, Farquhar, Desroches, and Providence. The main products were vegetables, pork, beef, chicken, copra and coconut oil.
Meanwhile, IDC also revealed that there are also Seychellois investors who have expressed interest in practicing aquaculture of the outer islands, with a particular interest in sea cucumbers.
"They have already started work on their projects and they want to produce sea cucumbers on a mass scale and we are working with them to ensure that they can be successful," added the CEO.