Port Louis, Mauritius (PANA) – Mauritian Agro-industry and Food Security Minister Maneesh Gobin on Wednesday launched the 2021 potato harvesting season with a call to citizens to reduce food wastage.
He said potato consumption is about 25,000 tons a year in the island, with local production amounting to 11,000-12,000 tons while the remaining is imported. There are two seasons of production.
Citing a recent report of the United Nations Environment Programme, Mr Gobin said that the low confidence estimates for Mauritius indicate that the annual food wastage in the country is nearly 100,000 tons.
According to him, this waste which occurs in fields, is due to bacteria and bad conservation, the latter which can be addressed by adopting simple agro-processing techniques.
Mr Gobin highlighted that this year, the country was affected by torrential rains during the months of March and April and therefore the 2021 harvest will be between 60% and 65%.
“Potato harvest will surpass the 70% mark in the coming years and the country will reduce its imports with agro-processing. Mauritius cannot continue to import 6,000 to 6,500 tons of frozen potatoes annually from other countries when these can be produced locally,” he said.
As regards food security, the Minister said that both in terms of production and agro-processing, losses are incurred even before harvesting due to rain while after harvesting the vegetables produced deteriorate quickly as Mauritius is a tropical island.
“However, there are agro-processing techniques which are very simple and can be adopted at home, be it for potatoes, onions and tomatoes,” he said, adding that “agro-processing has now become a pillar of the country’s strategy on food security”.
-0- PANA NA/MA 22July2021