Aug 28, 2014

Youth and Agriculture: Key Challenges and Concrete Solutions

The global population is expected to increase to 9 billion by 2050, of which, 14% are youth aged between 15 – 24 years. While the world’s youth population is will grow significantly, employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for youth, especially those living in developing countries’ economically stagnant rural areas – remain limited, poorly remunerated and of poor quality. Few young people see a future for themselves in agriculture or rural areas. Some of the major challenges faced are: limited access to land; inadequate access to financial services; insufficient access to knowledge; information and education; difficulties in accessing green jobs; limited access to markets; and limited involvement in policy dialogue.

Yet, solutions exist in all parts of the world.

YouthandAgricultureThe Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Technical Center for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) have joined forces to conduct research and produce a publication which provides real life examples from developing and more advanced economies.

Each of six key challenges indicated above have been documented, and for each of them, seven to nine cases studies illustrate how they can be addressed. Analyses of the experiences, their implementation frameworks and indications on some of their results have been provided. Additional experiences have been indicated in the conclusions of each chapter. A number of the case studies carry innovations that have strong potentials to strengthen the engagement of youths and family farmers in agricultural value chains, enhance global food security and youth livelihoods.

Many of the initiatives reported originate with the young people themselves. They show that – when there is a supportive environment – youth are able to find innovative ways to create a future for themselves, and also contribute to the societies and communities in which they live.

The document builds on results of the project “Facilitating Access to Rural Youth to Agricultural Activities” undertaken by FAO/IFAD/MIJARC, as well as on CTA youth activities. CTA, FAO and IFAD hope that this publication will help development practitioners, youth leaders, youth associations, producers’ organisations and policy makers alike by providing insights into possible solutions that can be tailored to their own context. Download your copy here

Aug 27, 2014

The Future of the Deer Industry - Changes in the Marketing of Venison



Source: Le Defi Media Info
There are new developments in the deer sector. Watch the video produced by 100% challenge which is reproduced here for educational purposes.

Deer was introduced in Mauritius some 360 years ago. From the 8 heads which were then released, the deer population has now reached some 70,000 head. The deer sector, occupies a total of 25,000 hectares of forest lands, of which 15,000 hectares are privately owned while the difference consist of state lands, which are rented out to farmers.

There exists some 60 deer farms in Mauritius and two types of farming, extensive and intensive, are carried out. Extensive deer rearing, whereby the animals are shot during the hunting season (June to September), is by far the most popular system in place and comprises a herd force of some 60,000 head.

Intensive farming (feedlots) was introduced in the mid 1970s. There are actually 10 intensive farms and the herd force consists of some 10,000 deer. Unlike extensive farming, the animals are reared in paddocks where a rotation system prevents overgrazing and parasite infestations (internal and external). The deer can also be handled at any time in a yard. Moreover, the animals can be shot all year round, provided those shot during the off season hunting period (October to May) are processed through the Central abattoir.

Annual production of deer meat is of the order of 420 tonnes carcass (of which extensive farming accounts for 90 per cent), out of a production capacity of 450 tonnes carcass. The reason of this difference being that a number of farms are actually increasing their herd force. The objective set by farmers is to produce 600 tonnes of deer meat by 2015.

Unlike the fresh beef and milk sectors, deer has a promising potential, provided farmers manage to overcome the marketing constraints, which appear to be the most dominant problem which the sector encounters. 

Aug 22, 2014

Model African Union 2014


Miss N.S. Theeroovengadum is a fresh graduate from the Faculty of Agriculture, she was elected chair of the Summit after an interview at the Ministry of Tertiary Education. Below she recounts some of her experience at the summit. Well Done.



I am Miss Theeroovengadum Nivershee Sandiana and I have chaired the Specialized Technical Committee (STC) on Agriculture, Rural Development, Water and Environment for the very first Model African Union Summit held in Mauritius. Indeed, after an interview at the Ministry of Tertiary Education, Science, Research and Technology, I have been elected chairperson based on my leadership skills, sense of responsibility amongst others. It has been a wondrous and highly enriching experience. Moreover, it was a privilege for me to chair a committee, in a field where I have graduated with a BSc (HONS) in Agriscience and Technology. The Model African Union is undeniably a unique experience whereby students, simulating a delegate or non-delegate role, act with a common vision to think out of the box and focus on actions and policies that would bring about change. As a chairperson and as a former delegate for the Model United Nations in 2009, I would strongly encourage all students of the University of Mauritius, irrespective of their fields of study, to participate in the future Model African Union Summits if it is made a recurring event.

Model African Union Summit 2014 at MGI





Les étudiants de diverses universités du pays se réunissent durant 2 jours au MGI a Moka pour le model african union summit.cette initiative de l’african union southern africa regional office vise à informer les jeunes africains sur le rôle et le fonctionnement de l’union africaine,r répartis en plusieurs groupes, les jeunes participants discuteront durant ces deux jours des défis concernant le continent africain. Reproduced form R.Gopaul, MBC.


Keshwar Lobin ( Head of delegate), Anusha Seechurn, Tejal Cheekhoory, Vagish Ramborun and Vedna Beeharry fresh graduates of the Faculty of Agriculture of the University of Mauritius won the best delegation for the 1st ever held Model African Union Summit 2014 on the 19th and 20th August 2014 at MGI.





We congratulate them for their successful participation in this inter-universities debate forum. We are very proud to be among the 10 awarded best delegations and having represented our university. They represented the country of Benin during this summit and Mr Shane Hurdowar academic staff of the Facukty was their mentor.
GIS – 21 August 2014: Over 250 students of Mauritian, African and Indian nationalities from ten public and private tertiary institutions in Mauritius participated in the first edition of the Model African Union (AU) Summit held at the Mahatma Gandhi Institute on 19 and 20 August 2014.
 
The event, organised for the first time in Mauritius by the Ministry of Tertiary Education, Science, Research and Technology in collaboration with the African Union Southern Africa Regional Office (AU-SARO), a regional branch of the AU, provided a unique opportunity for tertiary institutions students to learn of the role, organisation, functions and intricacies of the AU through simulation as well as to prepare them, as tomorrow’s leaders, policy makers and diplomats, to discharge such duties effectively. Critical issues relevant to Africa were discussed during the two days. They include Peace and Security, Agriculture, Environment and Climate Change, Education, Regional Economic Integration, Science and Technology, among others.
 
In simulating the real AU Summit, students were called upon to play the roles of delegates representing the 54 AU member states, chairpersons/co-chairs of the committee and assembly sessions, rapporteurs, security officers, floor officers as well as press officers. They were thus able to learn of the system of deliberation in the AU, the implementation of resolutions as well as the linkages of the AU with other international bilateral and multilateral agencies. The work of the Model African Union took place in four Specialised Technical Committees namely Agricultural, Rural Development, Water and Environment; Finance, Monetary Affairs, Economic Planning and Integration; Transport, Transcontinental and Interregional Infrastructures, Energy and Tourism; and Education, Science and Technology.
 
At the closing ceremony held yesterday, the Minister of Tertiary Education, Science, Research and Technology, Dr Rajesh Jeetah, stated that the two-day event was a resounding success with the positive level of debate and the depth of discussions. Speaking on African Union statistics which reveal that 65% of the total population of Africa are below the age of 35 years, Dr Jeetah highlighted the importance of enabling young people to focus on the development of Africa, its major concerns and priorities as well as its integration policies. The Minister added that he called on AU-SARO to enable best delegates from Model AU Summit to participate in forthcoming summits in other countries with a view of developing a network of young people on the continent.
 
For his part, the Ambassador, AU, and Regional Delegate to Southern Africa, Dr Salif Sada Sall, said that he was impressed by the passion, skills and abilities of the participants as well as the effectiveness of the local organisation committee. “In Mauritius, the holding of the Model AU Summit has been unique because it has involved the participation of both public and private tertiary institutions and because of the diversity and skills of the participants”. Dr Sall urged the young Mauritian participants to apply for positions advertised at the African Union Commission.
 
AU-SARO, a regional branch of the AU, was founded in 2001 to foster collaborations among AU member states and organisations within the 14 countries it represents. One of its main mandates is to create awareness of the AU. In that endeavour, it has started the African Union Model Summit as part of a programme of advocacy with universities, and to build capacity for the youth. The First model Summit was held in Malawi in 2011. It has since been organised as an annual activity on a rotational basis in each Southern Africa Member States.
 
Government Information Service, Prime Minister’s Office, Level 6, New Government Centre, Port Louis, Mauritius.

Aug 21, 2014

Five Reasons Why Youth Should Choose Agriculture

This article is extract of the world bank blog. Check the site for more information.

When weighing career choices, many young people in the developing world tend to shy away from agriculture. I, too, once found myself disenchanted by the small villages and rice fields I grew up seeing every day. As the conventional belief goes, agriculture means an archaic lifestyle and a future with limited opportunities for youth.

But I later learned I was wrong. Plenty of evidence shows us that agriculture provides youth a viable way to harvest success and grow a sustainable future. In other words, I believe youth can, and should, choose agriculture. Here are five reasons:

1. Agriculture matters to the future of development.
 
When it comes to fighting poverty, #agriculture is more effective than other sectors. More at http://t.co/H7CQB0GUHK pic.twitter.com/t6WTnhpai7


— WB Agriculture (@WB_Agriculture) May 1, 2014

Agriculture is up to four times more effective than other sectors in reducing poverty. Increasingly, the world is counting on agriculture to produce more nutritious food for — and improve the livelihoods of — a booming population, especially the poor. What could be more meaningful than being part of a proven solution to such a critical challenge?

2. Agriculture can be a gold mine for young entrepreneurs.

Gourmet Products Sustainably Produced in Senegal
(Video via InfoDev of the World Bank)

Meet Randa Filfili, a young entrepreneur from Senegal. She is also the first Senegalese producer who saw value in the fruit of cashew trees that others had considered waste, and turned it into “niche” jam products for export. Through agribusiness, Randa has not only carved out a successful career of her own, but also helped local farmers reach global markets, and create jobs for other young people — especially women. So, the next time you come across Randa’s all-natural cashew apple butter in your local produce store, think about how you can also start up a business in agriculture to help both yourself and the rural poor.

3. Agriculture is not cool? Think again. 
Innovations for Transparency
(Video via UNICEF Uganda)

In Uganda, a young team with the World Bank and UNICEF used a mobile and web-based app called “U-Report” to swiftly help 190,000 farmers save their bananas — a staple food for Ugandans — from a vicious disease. Countries like Kenya and Rwanda are also eager to boost productivity through information and communication technologies and other creative solutions. Agriculture in the developing world has become a field vibrant with effective innovations, thanks to a growing number of young techie minds that make it happen.

4. Agricultural research needs young brainpower.

Transforming Agriculture in Eastern Africa
(Video via the World Bank)

If you are a “young nerd” into development research, agriculture may be the right place for you. Numerous stories from East Africa and other places have shown that research revolutionizes agriculture and transforms livelihoods. Today, more than before, climate change and a growing demand for nutritious food are for fresh ideas and renewed knowledge to explore ICT in agriculture, foster climate-smart agriculture and innovate in the sector to power future growth.

5. The trend of youth choosing agriculture is growing.
 
 Arne Hoel / World Bank
Photo by Arne Hoel / World Bank Flickr

Attitudes toward agriculture are already changing. In Cameroon, where agriculture is becoming more competitive, young educated Cameroonians “have decided to become farmers, acquire land, grow maize professionally for trade, and manage their enterprises in order to earn a living,” according to Félix Nkapemin, an agricultural expert working with local farmers. Other countries like Armenia, Brazil, Malawi, and Senegal are investing in youth and agriculture with the support from the World Bank Group and other development organizations. Young people are also increasingly speaking up for themselves on why they choose agriculture.

The trend is growing. Support for the agriculture sector is increasing. The list of reasons is endless. This International Youth Day, I invite you to share your thoughts and experiences on why you think youth should engage in agriculture, and how it can help reduce poverty and boost shared prosperity. 

Jul 25, 2014

100 Years Celebrations- Soft Launching of the FaceBook page.




Our facebook page for the 100 years celebrations is on test at this link. 



This page is a repository of some salient features of the evolution of the Faculty over time. You can view the chronology of the evolution of the Faculty either through the album of photos or the timeline through the years starting from 1914 to date. You are most welcome to comment and ask questions and make this FB a lively one and a worthy platform.

Make this page known to all your friends, colleagues and class mates.



Wish you all a happy celebrations!!!!!!!! and Don't forget your alma mater, without whom you may not be what you are today.

Jul 18, 2014

Workshop on Solar Dehydration of Fruits and Vegetables

The Faculty of Agriculture will organise a 3 day workshop from 23-25 July 2014 on solar dehydration. Prof Steele, from the US a fulbright scholar will be the lead trainer together with academic staff of the Faculty. The objectives  of the workshop  are (i) to provide an understanding on solar dehydration and its application in the food industry and (ii) to  empower participants with knowledge and skills to construct their own solar dehydrator. Solar dehydration of fruits and vegetables project fits very well in the MID concept of Mauritius. A technology which has not yet been fully implemented in Mauritius and which will be very beneficial for the small and medium food processor.Click here to watch the workshop video.

The completed solar dryer


Prof Steele at work. He is preparing the materials for constructing the solar dryer. Photo taken on 16 July 2014




Prof Steele with Assoc Prof D Goburdhun, one of the local counter part in the project


Jul 1, 2014

HRDC: Identifying new skills needs to service the agro-industry sector- June 2014


In the wake of changes operating in the agro-industry sector, a new revised set of skills and competencies is needed on the part of job seekers to address the new challenges ahead. On that score, a Skills Interface Platform for the agro-industry sector was held on Wednesday 25 June 2014 at NG Tower, Ebène at the initiative of the HumanResource Development Council (HRDC) to debate on the issue. Mr Shane Hurdowar and Prof Y.Fakim Jauferally, Dean of the Faculty attended the workshop.

The platform was attended by experts from both sides, employers and employees, to discuss the market demand and the supply of labour. It will also be an opportunity to have the views of employers and industry operators and training providers and universities.

The workshop focussed on key issues to examine whether educational institutions and training providers give job seekers with the opportunity to acquire the skills in agriculture required to operate in today's modern agricultural industries; the expectations of employers and job seekers. It was an opportunity for stakeholders to ensure that the agricultural curriculum is revised and updated.

According to HRDC, agriculture is more than just farming the land and rearing animals. It is the lifeblood of the country as well as a source of food, animal feed and even provides fuel. In addition, the multi-functionality of agriculture today includes mitigating climate change, regulating water, controlling erosion and providing habitats for wildlife. The sector generated 3.4 % of the country's GDP in 2012 compared to 3.6 % in 2011. Employment in the sector edged up by 0.2% from 47 300 in 2011 to 47 400 in 2012.

However, many people, including youths, have a negative perception of the industry. Findings of the recent HRDC survey on skills shortage have shown that 59% of employers in the agro-industry sector feel that Mauritius is experiencing labour shortage at national level. Hence, the need to create the necessary awareness on career options relating to research, environmental management, engineering, financial management and other technical areas.

The specific objectives of the workshop will be:
 

  • Have an overview of the current skills/situation and needs in the Agro-industry sector and also to come up with an updated list of scarcity areas for the sector;
  • Synergise collaboration between stakeholders of this sector by aligning the curriculum/training programmes more towards the requirements of large as well as small operators of this sector;
  • Find innovative ways and means for training institutions to include dynamic inputs into the design and delivery of new/ongoing training programmes to boost employability; and 
  • Propose training/skills development programmes and ways to minimize the information gap between industry and academia/training institutions, and contribute towards addressing specific skills mismatch.
The final outcome of the workshop will be for the HRDC to come up with short-term and medium-term training programmes that will address the skills requirements in the sector.

Workshop on Vulnerability Reserach Adaptation, ploicy and Development Project (GIVRAPD)

Objectives

  1. Address key data and knowledge gaps that have been a barrier to assessing vulnerability and community dialogue on climate change adaptation.
  2. Develop and evaluate practical local adaptation and climate compatible development portfolios that address community needs and avoid maladaptation.
  3. Facilitate the mainstreaming and scaling‐up of adaptation and climate compatible development into larger planning initiatives related to sustainable development.
  4. Establish scientific and professional networks, build capacity and empower communities.
  5. Examine and assess micro‐insurance as a viable adaptation and climate compatible development strategy.
Click here to read more

Jun 24, 2014

One of the most overlooked ingredients in farming exists right beneath farmers’ feet—healthy, fertile soils.

Source

One of the most overlooked ingredients in farming exists right beneath farmers’ feet—healthy, fertile soils.

Unfortunately, this vital ingredient is being degraded and eroded at unprecedented rates across the world. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 25 percent of the planet’s land is highly degraded and only 10 percent is improving.

All continents are experiencing land degradation, and the loss of soil quality is not only an issue for farmers, but for all of us.

Deforestation, for example, is causing China's Loess Plateau to erode rapidly. Overgrazing of grassland in the Western United States is reducing soil depth and creating desertification. In India, overcutting trees and crops is reducing soil fertility and threatening wild medicinal plants. And farmland ploughed for commercial agriculture around the world exposes topsoil and increases erosion. In fact, Brazil loses 55 million tons of topsoil every year because of soybean production.

But agriculture doesn’t have to degrade soils—it is possible for food production to enrich the Earth, restore nutrients, conserve water, and prevent further erosion.