A workshop aiming at strengthening the potato value chain in Mauritius was launched this morning by the Minister of Agro-industry and Food Security, Mr Mahen Seeruttun, at the Cyber Tower 1 in EbAne. On this occasion, the Minister also proceeded with the launching of a 'Guide pratique pour la production de la pomme de terre' published by the Food and Agricultural Research and Extension Institute.
In his address at the opening ceremony, Minister Seeruttun highlighted that the change in the eating habits of the population as well as the expansion of the tourism industry have led to an increase in the consumption of potato in Mauritius over the years. He underscored that the objective of the Ministry for the potato sector is to achieve a self-sufficiency ratio of 80% representing around 21,600 tonnes by year 2020.On this score, he pointed out that there is an urgent need to promote the local production of this crop and to reduce the dependency on imports.
Government, he emphasised, is committed to take Mauritius to a higher level of food security by respecting the need for safe food and better nutrition for the population while taking into consideration sustainable agricultural practices. A number of measures have been implemented to provide support to the community of planters for the sector, he added.
They comprise amongst others the potato boost up scheme to assist planters in purchasing seed potatoes; provision of financial incentives for the purchase of machinery to mechanise field operations at planting, ridging and harvesting to reduce cost of production; maintenance of seed quality testing until its replacement by a certification scheme under the Seed Act; and provision of additional storage facility at the Agricultural Marketing Board.
Despite these schemes, the Minister underlined, the planting community undergo various challenges in the wake of climate changes and natural calamities. They also face constraints such as the unavailability of agricultural land and labour scarcity. This workshop will therefore provide a platform for different stakeholders as well as planters to discuss and share their views as regards promoting the potato industry in the country, he concluded.
The workshop addresses the following key issues: production constraints; research and development with relation to pests and diseases management and improved productivity, amongst others; marketing and organisation of the sector; and policies concerning the role of the National Potato committee and other institutions to consolidate on the strategic development of the industry.
It is being attended by officers of the Ministry of Agro-industry and Food Security, planters, entrepreneurs and stakeholders of the food industry.
Source: Government of Mauritius