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UN agriculture chief visits Seychelles; FAO support to boost agriculture, fisheries

Victoria, Seychelles | September 2, 2016, Friday @ 18:34 in National » DIPLOMACY | By: Sharon Uranie | Views: 3523
UN agriculture chief visits Seychelles; FAO support to boost agriculture, fisheries

The Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) José Graziano da Silva is on a two-day visit to Seychelles after visiting neighbouring Madagascar and Mauritius. (Jude Morel, Seychelles News Agency) 

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(Seychelles News Agency) - The UN agriculture chief on Friday highlighted the importance for Seychelles and other Indian Ocean islands to work together to implement an international treaty aimed at combatting illegal fishing.

Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) José Graziano da Silva discussed the issue during meetings with government officials including Seychelles President James Michel as part of his two-day visit to the archipelago. Da Silva is on a regional tour of three Indian Ocean Islands.

“We agreed that [the Seychelles] foreign affairs ministry will work with Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius to implement a common approach for that, and FAO will be glad to help and to fund these common approaches to implement the agreement,” Da Silva told journalists.

Seychelles is among countries that have already signed and ratified the international Port State Measures Agreement, which came into force in June. It is described as the first ever legally binding international treaty focussing on the issue of illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, which FAO says poses a serious threat to the management of fish stocks.

Fishing, which remains as the second pillar of Seychelles' economy, and the wider blue economy concept, which the island nation is promoting locally and internationally, were the main topics of discussions. 

“I believe Seychelles is taking the lead worldwide on the blue economy, putting the oceans at the centre of the agenda of sustainable development. The objectives for sustainable development cannot be achieved if we don’t change the way we treat the ocean,” said Da Silva.

The UN agriculture chief has held discussions with officials of the environment, fisheries and agriculture as well as foreign affairs ministries. (Jude Morel, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY

Challenges faced by farmers in Seychelles due to climate change and the way FAO can support the country were also among issues discussed.

Seychelles is the third Indian Ocean Island after Madagascar and Mauritius that the FAO Director General is visiting as part of his regional tour.

FAO has been providing mainly technical support to Seychelles – a 115-island archipelago in the western Indian Ocean -- for many years, aimed at addressing deficiencies in the agricultural and fisheries sector. Competition for agricultural land vis-à-vis other development sectors such as housing and tourism remains one of the main challenges to the island nation according to the Seychelles Minister for Fisheries and Agriculture Wallace Cosgrow.

Cosgrow told journalists that agriculture and nutrition, agro-tourism, control of pests such as the hairy caterpillar are some of the areas where the country has benefitted from FAO’s technical support over the past year.

One of the latest FAO-assisted project which has just been approved is a forest inventory. 

“We are in the second year of our current two-year assistance programme with FAO and we are working on designing new projects for which we will seek further technical support from FAO,” said Cosgrow. 

José Graziano da Silva met with President James Michel on Friday during which he was presented with a copy of his book “Re-thinking the Oceans - Towards the Blue Economy.” Da Silva has written the foreword for the book, which was launched in June this year.
(Jude Morel, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY

José Graziano da Silva has also taken the opportunity while in Seychelles to extend an invitation for President Michel to attend the launching of a food security proposal for small island developing states. This will take place at the next UN general assembly, later in September.

On Saturday he will visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Vallée de Mai on Praslin, as well as an agro-forestry site on the Seychelles second most populated island.

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Tags: UN, agriculture, Director General, Food and Agriculture Organisation, FAO, José Graziano da Silva

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