Seychelles seeks to increase food production, rely less on imports
The department is working on transforming the agricultural sector to ensure food security. (Seychelles Agricultural Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - New developments being worked on by Seychelles' agricultural department will seek to increase food production in the island nation so the archipelago relies less on food imports, a top official said on Wednesday.
The principal secretary of agriculture, Antoine Moustache, told journalists that the department is working on transforming the agricultural sector to ensure food security. Among the areas that need to be improved, he said, is meat production.
"For instance, if we take a look at pork meat, we are importing 1,000 tonnes and producing 500 tonnes per year, which means that we need to work to balance that,” Moustache said.
|Among the areas that need to be improved, Moustache said, is meat production. (Romano Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
The meeting with the press was to give an update on the upcoming developments in the national agricultural and fisheries sectors after the cabinet of ministers approved a national livestock policy for 2017 to 2027 last week.
The policy will strengthen the institutional framework for better service delivery, reinforce capacities along the livestock value chains, and improve production, productivity and competitiveness of the livestock sector, Moustache said.
The island nation in the western Indian Ocean is currently only self-sufficient in egg production. The 93,000 inhabitants of Seychelles consume agricultural products such as root and tubers, vegetables, pulses, fruits, and livestock products daily.
The Seychelles National Food and Nutrition Security Policy of 2013, based on statistics for 2011, showed that 72 percent of the food consumed by the Seychelles' population is imported.
In recent years, however, the contribution of the eastern African country’s agricultural sector towards the economy has reduced due to several factors such as limited capacity in terms of land size, topography, and natural and human resources.
Moustache said that the priority of the agricultural department is to help farmers improve infrastructures on their land and build on institutional capacity to provide an improved environment for agriculture.
He added that department officials are reviewing how land is allocated to farmers to ensure that it is being used accordingly for maximum food production.
The Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Pamela Charlette, said the ministry’s plan is to create an agricultural and fisheries sector that is sustainable and more resilient in the face of challenges occurring in the global market.
“To achieve that, we need to increase local production and nutritional value in what we produce. We also need to optimise our natural resources and institutional capacity to give more opportunities for employment,” said Charlette.
Charlette said new developments will include working on the Seychelles National Agricultural Investment Plan, which intends to provide desired volumes of production to ensure that food is always available from local sources.
The plan includes protection and sustainable use of agricultural land and water; productivity, commercialization and diversification of crops; sustainable fisheries management and aquaculture development; food security and nutrition, and human and institutional capacity development.
For the fisheries sector, the principal secretary Michael Nalletamby said sustainability in artisanal and industrial fishing is a focus.
In Seychelles, the local fishermen are mainly involved in artisanal fishing. (Gerard Larose, Seychelles Tourism Board) Photo License: CC-BY
He added that: “In artisanal fishing, we are having major concerns about its sustainability. We are, therefore, going to define ways to ensure its continuity.”“We have more potential to benefit from industrial fishing which involves the catching of tuna. However we need to encourage the private sector to enter into this domain to bring in other quality tuna processed product,” said Nalletamby.
While foreign-owned vessels have long dominated the industrial long line fishing sector in Seychelles, it’s the local fishermen who are mainly involved in artisanal fishing.
Nalletamby said that aquaculture is a new area they intend to focus on to open new opportunities for Seychellois.
The Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries said that new development plan is open to dialogue with people involved in both sectors to find the way forward.