Panafrican News Agency

Covid-19: Pandemic makes Mauritians aware of food security, self-sufficiency

Port Louis, Mauritius (PANA) – Mauritian Agro-Industry and Food Security minister Maneesh Gobin said on Tuesday that the Covid-19 pandemic has made people aware of the importance of food security and food self-sufficiency.  


Speaking at the launch of the first potato harvest in Glen Park, central Mauritius, he stated that now is the time for Mauritians to become planters and "consume what we have planted and plant what we consume”.


According to Gobin, more and more young qualified people are joining the agro-business sector despite the various difficulties faced by planters, such as fierce competition, lack of labour and rising importation costs. 


“Government is encouraging the mechanisation of agriculture.  A harvester  machine to the tune of Rs 15 million (about US$ 375,000) has been acquired for the cooperative sector for the cutting of sugar cane”, he said.


Mr Gobin observed that an increase of land under potato cultivation and other vegetables has been registered, thus resulting in more harvest and less importation of these crops. He encouraged more people to process agricultural plant-based products into valuable marketing products such as converting potatoes into chips.


On the occasion, the minister launched a new variety of potatoes called “Vigora” that has been developed by the Food and Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (FAREI) which, he said, is more adapted to the climate in Mauritius and resistant to several diseases.


An official from FAREI told PANA that  potato is cultivated during two seasons - from 15 April to 30 June - and from - July to end of August in Mauritius.  Harvest is carried out from mid-June to mid-December.


Some 200 tonnes of potato seeds are cultivated on 700 hectares. Production ranges generally from 17,000 to 19,000 tonnes.

-0- PANA NA/AR 9July2020