Mar 8, 2018

How to put the youth back in agriculture

How to put the youth back in agriculture


The University of Mauritius is one of the leading local tertiary education providers, which has been of service to the nation for the past fifty years. To help Mauritius achieve Target 12.3 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which is

“ halving per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reducing food losses along production and supply chains (including postharvest losses)
by 2030, the Faculty of Agriculture of the University of Mauritius, aims to lead a “Food Loss and Waste Reduction and Recovery” Initiative with the aim to create national awareness on food loss and food waste reduction among all stakeholders along the farm–to-fork continuum. The Faculty of Agriculture has always been proactive and strived to align its programmes of studies with the emerging needs of the Agricultural and Food sector in Mauritius. As early as 1997, the Faculty launched its first full-fledged undergraduate programme in Food Science; thereafter BSc (Hons) in Food Science and Technology with different specialisations such as Food Safety, Seafood Technology, BSc (Hons) Food Safety and Quality, MSc Food Science, MSc Food Technology and PhD programmes. Research projects in the fields of value addition to food, food safety and quality, functional foods, and food product development, have been carried out by staff and students.

The Faculty is launching several activities pertaining to food loss and food waste reduction. under the Food Loss and Food Waste Reduction and Recovery Initiative over one year

➢ FORUM ON POSTHARVEST LOSSES OF FRUITS AND VEGETABLES in collaboration with the Food and Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (FAREI) on the 15th February 2018 at the University of Mauritius. The resource person was Mr Shubham Chandra

➢ CONFERENCE ON FOOD LOSS AND FOOD WASTE REDUCTION AND RECOVERYfrom 27th Feb to 1st March 2018.  Three international speakers and eight local speakers will intervene.

➢ AAWARENESS CAMPAIGN spreading over one year (February 2018-March 2019),through media, quiz and poster competitions , as well as short tailor-made workshops for different target audience on waste recovery and reduction targeting producers, consumers, school children, food industries, catering and hospitality sectors among others.

It is expected that as a result, stakeholders will become more aware of the impact of this growing problem and apply measures to contain it. This Initiative cannot be carried out in isolation and thus the Faculty of Agriculture is seeking to work with researchers, businesses, communities, funding agencies, consumers organizations to create an awareness on food loss and food waste reduction.


International Conference of the Mauritian Diaspora

Feb 1, 2018


 A AAUN workshop on New Plant Breeding Methods for Sustainable Use of Genetic Resources and Security of Food Production was organized by the University of Mauritius (UOM), in collaboration with the University of Western Australia, from 29 to 31 January 2018. The convenors were Prof Wallace Cowling (AAUN project PI), University of Western Australia and Prof Sunita Facknath
(AAUN partner), University of Mauritius.

Prof Wallace Cowling and Prof Sunita Facknath

 The objectives of the workshop 
  • To review the existing plant breeding methodologies
  • To evaluate new methods for sustainable genetic improvement in important food crops for AAUN partner countries.
  • To identify barriers to the successful adoption of the new plant breeding methodologies.
Key Learning Topics
It is postulated that new animal breeding methods, such as optimal contributions selection and genomic selection, may enhance long‐term crop improvement based on genetic diversity from crop genebanks and elite crop varieties, thereby reducing the time for crop genetic improvement. Participants, mainly plant breeders and researchers from AAUN member universities attended the workshop and learned how the animal model can be used in crop breeding programmes.

Keynote Speakers 
The Keynote speakers were Emeritus Professor Brian Kinghorn, University of New England, Australia and Prof Raphael Mrode, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Nairobi, Kenya.of ILRI, They spoke on how to accelerate genetic progress into the long term with animal breeding technologies such as BLUP analysis to derive predicted breeding values (PBV), index selection composed of PBV for several economic traits, and optimal contributions selection and trait management and ways of improving accuracy by using information from relatives ‐ the animal model.

Delegates attending this workshop include AAUN‐sponsored delegates from member universities in Africa and Australia, plus several other plant breeders and researchers from Africa.
Plant breeders and geneticists from The University of Western Australia, University of Sydney, University of Pretoria  also gave talks on their crop genetic improvement programme.

Local and Overseas Particiapants
Discussion were held on the ability of the new methods to improve adaptation of crops to changing climates, and thereby improve future food security. The deliberations of the workshop will also be published in a special issue of the Journal of Food and Energy Security.

Nov 16, 2017


Le réseau QualiREG, en collaboration avec la Faculté d'Agriculture de l'Université de Maurice, organise la "6èmes Rencontres de l'Agroalimentaire en Océan Indien - QualiREG 2017" qui aura lieu du 20-25 Novembre  2017 Université de Maurice, Réduit. 


I am pleased to inform you that as part of the HAAGRIM project, the Faculty will once more host scholars (from different universities in Africa), during the period 16 November - 22 December 2017. This will be a privileged time for staff and students of the Faculty to interact with the scholars, and benefit from an exchange of experiences. As you are aware, within the context of the UoM Strategic Plan, 'Internationalisation of its activities' is one strategic objective of our university. 

Through the HAAGRIM project, the Faculty has integrated an international/intercultural dimension into our teaching, research and service functions. You will recall the recent visits of Sophie Diallo (Universite Gaston Berger; Senegal), and Philippe Jacques Gbedjegloaho (Universite de Abomey-Calavi; Benin), and their valued inputs to our Faculty, and the running of the International MSc programme: MSc Agribusiness Management (with 7 students from different African countries).

Dr Brinda Ramasawmy (Local Coordinator for HAAGRIM) has already prepared a plan of work for each scholar. Please find in attachment the names of scholars, and the purpose of their stay at the Faculty. 

I take this opportunity to extend our thanks to Brinda, Kamlesh and the administrative staff for all the work and effort in preparing the visit of the scholars.

Dr Driver 

Nov 15, 2017

Tuning Africa

The Faculty of Agriculture of the University of Mauritius has successfully completed all tasks in the Tuning Africa project which ran from 2015 to 2017. It's a project geared towards developing student centered curriculum. Thank to all you who have contributed to our success. The University was represented by Mr K.Boodhoo.

Nov 13, 2017

Industry-University partnership: Invitation to participate in the GID-FAST Dev 2017 for agriculture

FACULTY OF AGRICULTURE Positive interactions with the industry  has help to bring forward the University of Mauritius as a strong, essential, reliable and visible partner for mutual benefits. 

Following a request from the President of the Mauritius Academy of Science and Technology (MAST), Dr J C Autrey to submit proposals of potential local agribusinesses for the programme GID-FASTDEV (Groupe Interacadémique pour le Développement (GID) - Forum Africain des Sciences et Technologies pour le Développement - FastDev ) 2017, Dr Brinda Ramasawmy and Dr Francoise Driver of the Faculty of Agriculture submitted a brief on the hydroponic producer, Top Nature Ltd in July 2017.

We had selected Top Nature Ltd based as a stakeholder of the Faculty of Agriculture. Also, as one of our Masters student from the HAAGRIM project, Mamadou Fall from Senegal worked there as a trainee for 6 months in 2016. He completed completed his Masters dissertation which was on setting up a traceability systems for Top Nature This traceability system enabled the company to obtain the MauriGAP certification and the Made in Moris label in October 2016.

We are pleased to inform you that Top Nature Ltd has been selected to participate in the GID-FAST Dev 2017 programme and has been invited in the forum to be held in Abidjan in November 2017. 

This illustrates a successful example of an industry-university partnership through application of research; sharing of best practices and capacity building for our students through work placement opportunities.

Oct 17, 2017

Talk by Mr Shane Hurdowar, Faculty of Agriculture

La journée mondiale de l’alimentation est célébrée en ce lundi 16 octobre. Dans ce contexte, le ministère de  l’agro-industrie et de la sécurité alimentaire a organisé un colloque.  Une réunion de travail qui se déroulé sous le thème de ‘’évolution de l’agriculture a Maurice   L’évènement a été organisé au Rajiv Gandhi Science Centre en présence du ministre de l’agro-industrie Mahen Seeruttun qui a rappelé la nécessité  de diminuer l’utilisation des pesticides dans notre agriculture. Mons Shane a fait une presentation sur le role de la Faculte D'Agriculture dans le development du secteur agricole a Ile Maurice.

Compte-rendu: Shabneez Oozeer MBC

Sep 2, 2017


24 officers from the Forest Services of the Ministry of AgroIndustry and Food Security have joined the Diploma in Forestry offered by the Faculty of Agriculture, University of Mauritius this academic year 2017/18. Ia There is a good group interactions and willingness to help each other (e.g of Peer Teaching) to learn.

Lecturing to such a group of experienced and mature students is a good opportunity to  apply concepts of adult learning. Most of them participated actively in the class discussion, even though some of them tried to dominate the discussion.

They were keen to use Web 2.0 tools, although they did not realise that they are already using it.

Wish all of them a fruitful stay at the Faculty and happy learning to all!!!

Jul 15, 2017

Aperçu de la consommation des légumes a Maurice

Une Analyse critique de Mons. Jean Cyril Monty

La consommation locale de légumes frais s’est élevée à 115 000 tonnes en 2016 contre 97,000 tonnes en 2008 (+19 %), ce qui représente une moyenne de 88 kilos par tête d’habitant.

Du volume consommé en 2016, 90 000 tonnes (78 %) sont d’origine locale et les 25,000 tonnes restantes (22 %) proviennent des importations.

La valeur de la production locale des légumes frais, en 2016, est estimée à Rs 2,5 milliards contre Rs 1,8 milliard en 2008 (+39 %).

Tenant compte des différents postes de dépenses et des marges commerciales imposées par les intermédiaires, grossistes, distributeurs et détaillants, il est estimé que les légumes frais, produits localement, ont coûté aux consommateurs locaux la somme astronomique d’environ Rs 4 milliards en 2016 contre Rs 3 milliards dix ans plus tôt (+33 %). Ainsi, chaque Mauricien aura dépensé, en 2016, une moyenne de Rs 3 100 pour son approvisionnement en légumes frais locaux.

Les exportations

Les exportations de légumes frais, en 2016, ont été dérisoires, soit un volume de seulement 60 tonnes, ce qui représente 0,6 % de la production nationale. Il serait utile de faire ressortir qu’entre 2012 et l’année dernière, le volume exporté a chuté de 71 %.

Les légumes transformés

La filière de la production des légumes ne fournit pratiquement pas de matière première à l’industrie de transformation locale, qui n’a d’autre choix que de se tourner vers l’importation pour son approvisionnement.

En 2016, le pays a importé un volume de quelque 31 500 tonnes de légumes transformés, incluant pour les besoins de l’agro-industrie locale. Ce volume représente une hausse de 50 % par rapport aux 21 000 tonnes réceptionnées en 2008.

Ces chiffres font voir que Maurice suit les tendances des pays développés avec une consommation grandissante des produits transformés.

Les producteurs

Il est estimé que 85 % de la production locale proviennent des petits planteurs et les 15 % restants des établissements sucriers et autres gros planteurs. Ceci montre le rôle important que tiennent les petits producteurs pour nourrir la population.

Une filière en détresse

Le bref état des lieux de la filière légumes frais, présenté ci-dessus, démontre, malgré ses nombreuses failles et faiblesses, l’importance stratégique du secteur dans l’économie du pays. Cependant, cette filière fait face depuis trop longtemps à de grosses difficultés qui ne cessent de mettre à mal le fondement même de son existence. Une activité économique, si petite soit-elle, ne peut être maintenue en opération uniquement à travers des compensations et autres mesures cosmétiques d’éclat, alors que les véritables enjeux se situent ailleurs, notamment :
(i) une productivité (rendement par unité de surface) en chute libre depuis maintenant dix ans, passant de 14,9 tonnes/hectare en 2009 à 13,2 tonnes/hectare en 2016.
(ii) un coût de production élevé, affectant ainsi les producteurs et les consommateurs.
(iii) des infestations de maladies et d’insectes de plus en plus sévères, avec de sérieuses répercussions sur les récoltes.
(iv) une activité d’exportation au plus bas en raison du manque de compétitivité, des problèmes phytosanitaires ainsi que de la qualité des produits.
(v) le changement climatique et le manque d’eau pour l’irrigation qui affectent les cultures.
(vi) l’incapacité de produire pour l’industrie de la transformation.
(vii) l’absence d’une politique claire et définie des bonnes pratiques culturales.
(viii) une main-d’oeuvre en baisse et vieillissante.
(ix) la définition des zones appropriées de production pour les différents types de cultures.

Des mesures budgétaires en déphasage avec les réalités locales

Le secteur agricole non-sucre, et celui de la filière des légumes frais en particulier, souffre d’une très mauvaise approche de la part du gouvernement.

La première présentation du budget de l’alliance Lepep, en 2015, suivi de celui du 8 juin 2017, sont venus démontrer comment nos décideurs du jour ont une vision du secteur non-sucre qui est en déphasage avec les réalités locales. Si rien n’est fait pour rectifier le tir, la production de légumes continuera à péricliter dans le court à moyen terme avec des retombées catastrophiques pour le pays en général et les planteurs et consommateurs en particulier.

Encourager les planteurs, notamment ceux qui le souhaitent, à se lancer dans la production bio aurait été une décision judicieuse. Cependant, fixer un objectif de 50% de notre production locale en légumes bio d’ici cinq ans, est une décision suicidaire et irresponsable, prise à la va vite et sans aucune étude approfondie sur la question, mesure boudée, avec raison, par la majorité des planteurs. Aucun pays au monde, même parmi les champions du bio, n’osera jamais imaginer un seul instant fixer un tel seuil de production car les implications sont énormes et bien souvent irréversibles.

Et comme si l’idée de se concentrer sur le bio ne suffisait pas, voilà que dans la présentation du budget 2017/2018, une mesure étonne et laisse bouche bée. Il s’agit de la production de noix de macadamia. Alors là, chapeau à celui ou à ceux qui ont pu convaincre le ministre des Finances qu’il y a là un gros potentiel que le pays doit exploiter.

Pour ceux qui l’ignorent, le macadamia est un arbre qui atteint sa pleine maturité à l’âge de 12-15 ans, mesurant alors un minimum de 15 mètres de haut. Les premières noix sont produites quand l’arbre atteint l’âge de 5-6 ans, mais le rendement demeure relativement faible jusqu’à 10-12 ans environ. Ainsi, tout planteur qui souhaiterait se lancer dans cette activité devra prendre son mal en patience et attendre au minimum une décennie, si entre-temps la plantation n’est pas décimée par les cyclones (le macadamia est très sensible aux vents forts et à une forte humidité), pour espérer rentrer dans ses frais.

Comme les terres agricoles sont aujourd’hui une denrée très rare chez nous, il en découle que toute plantation de macadamia ne pourra se faire qu’au détriment d’une culture existante ou d’une activité qui nécessite de grandes superficies.

Par ailleurs, ce ne sont certainement pas l’interdiction d’importer ou l’introduction d’une taxe de 15% sur certains pesticides qui vont régler les problèmes de résidus dans les légumes qui, soit dit en passant, ne sont pas aussi alarmants qu’on ne le pense mais nécessitent néanmoins des mesures plus terre à terre et non punitives pour être réglés.

Le véritable enjeu : répondre de façon dynamique aux aléas du marché

La filière des légumes frais est à la croisée des chemins et nécessite une refonte en profondeur, une mise à niveau qui permettra alors aux producteurs de répondre de manière positive et soutenue aux attentes des consommateurs. Redresser et revaloriser le secteur primaire afin qu’il puisse continuer à remplir sa mission qui est de nourrir la population, voilà où se situe le véritable enjeu. Définir de nouvelles politiques agricoles qui vont avaler nos maigres ressources financières et humaines disponibles ne fera qu’aggraver une situation déjà aléatoire.

Source: L' Express 21 Jun 2017

Will Biofarming supply healthy and safe products In Mauritius?

Sustainable agriculture is one of the Millennium Development Goals set by the United Nations to be achieved by 2030. In Mauritius, the Ministry of Agro-industry has been working to this end by promoting bio farming and by encouraging planters to use less chemicals and more compost for quality products while reducing our carbon footprint. The strategy is paying off, Minister Mahen Seeruttun claims that 50% of planters have taken up bio farming. By 2030, most farmers would be using this method.


What is the current situation regarding bio food production?

Bio farming takes care of the environment and the biodiversity while ensuring food quality and safety. The concept of bio farming is new to most traditional farmers in Mauritius. The shift to bio production will be a gradual one. Farmers are gradually replacing chemical fertilisers and pesticides by bio fertilizers and bio pesticides. However, there are a few initiatives to pioneer organic food production, which is already under way.

What is the total food production from January 2015 to date?

There are already around 15 existing farmers engaged in bio food production for niche markets. In fact, there is an increasing number of fruit and vegetable growers who have shifted to bio farming practices, using ‘Zero Budget Natural Farming’ techniques. This ecological approach to farming is promoted by the well-known Indian naturalist Dr Subhas Palekar. As at date, it can be stated that there is a total of 17 Arpents of land under bio farming in Mauritius.
To promote the bio farming practices, my Ministry has put in place the following incentives:
  • Introduction of the Bio Farming Promotion Scheme since May 2016. Eligible farmers benefit from fiscal and financial incentives such as VAT exemption on agricultural equipment and inputs, income tax holiday for the first eight years of operation and loan facilities at an annual interest rate currently at 3.4% over a period of 10 years for a maximum of 90% project financing under the MauBank SME Development Scheme;
  • Implementation of a Compost Subsidy Scheme to encourage planters to shift from the use of chemical inputs to organic ones. As at date, some 3,300 planters have taken advantage of the scheme;
  • Implementation of a Sheltered Farming Scheme to encourage planters to undertake crop production under protected structures, leading to lower dependence on agro chemicals. As at date, some 68 planters have taken advantage of this Scheme.
  • The release of a plot of land on State Land over 66 Arpents at Britannia for the exclusive use of bio farming projects. This plot of land will be equipped with all production infrastructure including land preparation works, irrigation facilities and other infrastructures,
  • Training and technical assistance as support services will be made available to potential promoters of bio farming food production systems.

Is it possible for our food production to be 100% bio?

In Budget 2015, Government has set a target of 50% of local food to be produced according to bio-norms within five years. To promote bio-farming, my Ministry has initiated the following actions:

(a) The setting up of a proper Organisational Structure at both the Ministry and FAREI for provision of technical assistance and for facilitating access of farmers to the Bio Farming Scheme; (b) The development of a training package by FAREI on the MauriGap Level 1 Standard which is the basic standard to facilitate the gradual shift towards bio farming. Currently, FAREI is conducting training of some 240 farmers in the MAURIGAP level 1; (c) The establishment of a demonstration plot over 1 arpent on State Land at Bois Marchand to showcase zero budget natural farming practices. (d) The implementation of a Technical Cooperation Assistance Programme funded by the FAO to support the development of organic farming and institutional capacity building in Mauritius over a period of two years. As per this project, the FAO will assist my Ministry in drafting a national legislation on organic agriculture and develop strategy on the marketing of organic products.
We firmly believe that these initiatives, along with the forthcoming certification process and quality assurance, and all the technical support being provided by my Ministry, will foster the necessary change/shift from conventional farming systems that rely on intensive use of agro-chemicals to bio farming practices that will help to supply on the local market fruits and vegetables that are both healthy and safe.

What is the impact of bio food production on market prices?

The present trend clearly indicates an ever increasing demand for bio food products, most of which are imported. These products are often sold at higher prices than those of conventional ones due to their limited supply on the local market. My Ministry has therefore initiated preliminary groundwork with the assistance of FAO to investigate the pricing of bio food products to consumers. The pricing policy will go in line with the development of a certification process and appropriate labelling for the proper recognition of bio foods. Once the pricing strategy is established, more bio foods will be produced and certified, which will lead to lower prices of bio foods on the market.

Is manure used in the production of vegetables accounted for as bio?

Along with the application of chemical fertilisers, manure is already another source of plant nutrients in conventional farming system. As farmers shift to the bio farming system, manure will become the main source of nutrients for crop development. Under the Zero Budget Natural Farming approach, cow dung is used as source input for natural liquid or solid soil enricher preparation.

What are the other stuffs that can be used under the bio label for food production?

Cow dung along with cow urine from local cow breed can be used for natural soil enricher preparation under the Zero Budget Natural Farming approach. Natural pesticides can be prepared from cow urine and selected plant materials. Natural farming also lay emphasis on mixed cropping and has recourse to natural mulching, which in addition to help in weed control and in reducing the use of herbicides, will also enhance the biological activity and replenish the nutrient base of the soil.

There are also now many imported bio-pesticide products that are available locally and that can be used. Under the Compost Subsidy Scheme, growers are being encouraged to use compost in their production systems. Parasitoids can also be used as biological control to pests in crops production under the support of FAREI.

Click here for more!!


Government is committed to support sustainable agricultural development and organic food production for local market and increase export potential as well as diminish high reliance on chemical inputs.

The above statement was made yesterday by the Prime Minister, Minister of Home Affairs, External Communications and National Development Unit and Minister of Finance and Economic

Development, Mr Pravind Jugnauth, at the launching of the first organic farming zone at Britannia.
The Prime Minister recalled that for the development of this first organic zone of 66 acres, an amount of Rs 25 million has been allotted under Budget 2016-2017. He underlined that under the present demanding foodcrop production systems, planters rely heavily on the use of agrochemicals, particularly pesticides and chemical fertilisers.

This practice is not environment friendly and is a threat to food quality and safety, he said, adding that the promotion of sustainable and organic agriculture through innovations and environmentally safe practices will boost the agricultural sector.

According to Mr Jugnauth, Mauritius has to produce a certain minimum to ensure food security but with increasing consumer awareness on safe food and environment friendly practices it is important to focus on the quality of the products. The potential of producing organic fruits and vegetables exists in Mauritius, he stated and urged the youth to join and develop this sector with the help of new technology. Organic production can help us access viable and value-added markets to benefit from higher prices, he added.

Present on the occasion, the Minister of Agro-Industry and Food Security, Mr Mahen Seeruttun, announced that a regulation of organic farming is in the pipeline. He recalled the challenges faced by the community of planters due to climate change and stressed that his Ministry will always stand by their side to support them in various ways.

A second organic farming zone will be developed on 25 acres at Plaine Magnien as a result of the high response for organic projects, the Minister stated. He also listed out the different schemes proposed by his Ministry to encourage smart agriculture and organic farming systems for the production of safer and healthier food products.

Moreover at the same event, sixteen promoters of organic projects were handed their Lease Agreements and Bio-farming Development certificates.