Nov 16, 2017

QUALIREG CONFERENCE

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. 


HAAGRIM SCHOLARS

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

STUDENTS OF THE DIPLOMA IN FORESTRY (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!!

SETTING UP OF AN ORGANIC FARM IN BRITANNIA, MAURITIUS



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.

May 15, 2017

Faculty of Agriculture at the International SME Innovation and Technology Fair 2017

The Faculty of  Agriculture participated at the International SME fair on 11 to 14 May at the Swami Vivekananda International Convention Centre in Pailles. It was an opportunity to show case the technical expertise especially in novel technologies of agriculture, Bio-farming and other value added agri-business activities that the Faculty can leverage to support entrepreneurs in developing their capacities. For more info contact the Dean office at deanfoa@uom.ac.mu






Source GIS - 08 May, 2017: Government wants to endorse innovation and technology for local entrepreneurs and foster new technological strategies to boost up the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) sector in Mauritius. This was stated by the Minister of Business, Enterprise and Cooperatives, Mr Soomilduth Bholah, during a press conference today and he announced the holding of the International SME Innovation and Technology Fair 2017 on 11 to 14 May at the Swami Vivekananda International Convention Centre in Pailles.

The Minister outlined four major constraints faced by local entrepreneurs to sustain competition and innovation on international frontiers namely a lack of funding; restricted market access; lack of skilled labour; and deficiency in technological resources. He pointed out that the fair will help promote cooperation and partnership with other countries, thus allowing exchange of knowledge, skills, creativity and expertise.

He appealed to entrepreneurs and the public to attend the fair and benefit from this technology transfer and technical know-how sharing activity to facilitate joint ventures and induce innovation for SMEs.

Minister Bholah highlighted that the visit of the Minister of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) of the Republic of India, Mr Kalraj Mishra, will coincide with the International SME Innovation and Technology Fair. Mr Mishra will be on an official visit to Mauritius for five days to attend the Second Joint Committee Meeting on Cooperation in the field of MSME.
Issues that will be addressed during the Joint Committee Meeting are: capacity building for the development of micro and medium enterprises; industrial potential feasibility studies, partnership and cooperation in priority sectors, and handicraft; possibility of technical and managerial training; and organisations of exhibitions and fairs with India.

The International SME Innovation and Technology Fair 2017, aiming to promote innovative and technological strategies for SMEs, is being organised by the Ministry of Business, Enterprise and Cooperatives in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Authority and the Mauritius Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The fair is expected to gather around 40 local and 50 international exhibitors from countries like India, China, South of Africa, Italy, and Malaysia, amongst others. A huge variety of products will be displayed mainly in the sectors of medical, renewable energy, manufacturing, innovation, bio-farming, aqua-culture, handicraft and ICT. Seminars will also be held by resource persons from India.

Mar 6, 2017

Meaders Scholarship

Meaders Feeds
offre un stage rémunéré d’une année
à une étudiante de l’Université de Maurice


Workshop on Research Management, Research Uptake and Innovation



Workshop on
Research Management, Research Uptake and Innovation

 

                 Speakers: Prof K Mossanda (SARIMA) 

Prof B. Lalljee and Prof S. Facknath (Faculty of Agriculture)

 

Date: Tuesday 7 and 8 March 2017

 

Venue: Conference Room, Faculty of Agriculture,
University of Mauritius, Reduit

 

 Organised by: Faculty of Agriculture and 

 

 Southern African Research and Innovation Management Association (SARIMA)

 

Organised by the Prof B Lalljee, SADC/SRIM Focal Point 

 


Feb 15, 2017

THOUGHT FOR FOOD CHALLENGE COMPETITION- PARTICIPATION OF 2 FOOD SCIENCE STUDENTS OF THE FACULTY OF AGRICULTURE


Dhanishta Meetoo teamed up with Manisha Bheeroo (BSc Food Science and Technology Alumni), one student in California and another one in London, to participate in the international Thought For Food Challenge.  Although, their team is not among the 10 selected finalists (there were 479 participants)  their participation is highly commendable and deserves a big applause. This is also a good demonstration of how they have used social media tools, freely available, to prepare their project. This is an example that ought to be followed by all of our students and staff alike.
Well done Team.
Click to view their submission




We are a team of international students with expertise in innovative agriculture, communications, sustainability and social entrepreneurship. Kala studies management information systems in California and is focused on spreading unconventional ideas on sustainability. Dhanishta and Manisha are both food science students from Mauritius who are passionate about creative and innovative ways to tap into natural resources of their tropical homeland. Manisha had conducted scientific studies on the development and quality of jackfruit burgers in the Food Technology laboratory of the Faculty of Agriculture, the University of Mauritius, as part of the her final year dissertation for her undergraduate course in Food Science and Technology.Josephine studies global health and social entrepreneurship. She believes that food innovation can be a major catalyst for sustainable social change. Together we form a dynamic and international team, drawing insights from different culture and disciplines, with a single goal in mind - sustainable food innovations that leverage unexpected resources around the world.

Watch their submissio

Jan 29, 2017

Workshop on Creation of an institute of biotechnology in Mauritius



 
24 January 2017: A workshop to discuss the setting up of a National Biotechnology Institute, an initiative of the Ministry of Agro-Industry and Food Security, kicked off this morning at the Labourdonnais Waterfront Hotel, Port Louis.
 
Present at the opening ceremony, the Minister of Agro-Industry and Food Security, Mr Mahen Seeruttun, stated that the country is now ready to transform itself into a high-income economy and innovation has been recognized, as the key driver of economic growth in terms of wealth generation and job creation. Biotechnology is one of the vehicles of innovation that could contribute positively towards this vision, he added.
 
According to him, Mauritius has so far been timidly involved in biotechnology and very few institutions are engaged in this sector. The Mauritius Sugar Industry Research Institute under the aegis of the Mauritius Cane Industry Authority, Food and Agricultural Research and Extension Institute and the University of Mauritius are the few institutions that address biotechnology in their research and development programme, recalled Mr Seeruttun.
 
Consequently we have not been able to tap the full extent of this technology, he stressed, adding that his Ministry is committed to redress this situation. In this context, the National Biosafety Committee was reconstituted in March 2015. This committee is an advisory committee set up to advise on all aspects concerning the importation, exportation, transit, development, research, production, use, application, marketing, sale and the release of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) or on any other matter concerning GMOs.
 
Actions to review the GMO Act 2004, which was only partially proclaimed in 2004, have been initiated stated the Minister and a revised draft of the GMO Act is already available. Moreover, the associated regulations to accompany this law are being finalised, he added. For Mr Seeruttun, all these initiatives will assist to protect human, animal and environmental health, protect consumers in making their choice regarding GMOs, and maintain an international quality and safety standards that facilitate trade.
 
Furthermore, the Minister announced that provision is being made for the setting of the National Biosafety Office in his Ministry to deal with administrative matters pertaining to Biosafety, GMOs and to cater for the enforcement of the law.
 
Application of biotechnology will be critical to help Mauritius meet the new challenges facing us such as climate change, new pests and diseases outbreaks and growing demands for food, feed, fibre and biofuels in the years to come, he said.
 
Government Information Service, Prime Minister’s Office, Level 6, New Government Centre, Port Louis, Mauritius. Email: gis@govmu.org  Website:http://gis.govmu.org

The speech of the Minster is reproduced below.


I am delighted to be present amongst you for the opening of a very important workshop on the setting up of The Mauritius Biotechnology Institute.

Biotechnology has a very broad meaning currently, ranging from basic research in medical and pharmaceutical fields, to environmental science, agriculture and food production.

It is unconceivable today to think of a world without biotechnology.

It has become an indispensable tool in our daily life, it is all around us and is influencing our lives, providing breakthrough products and technologies to combat diseases, reducing the environmental footprint and feeding the hungry.

Today, there are more than 250 biotechnology health care products and vaccines available to patients, many for previously untreatable diseases.

More than 13.3 million farmers around the world use agricultural biotechnology to increase crop yields, prevent damage from insects and pests and reduce farming’s impact on the environment.

While biotechnology is an opportunity to be seized for technological innovation, we must also be aware that the science of biotechnology should not operate in a vacuum.

It requires a structured approach with well-trained technical and scientific personnel and investments as well as appropriate legal framework.
We should admit that Mauritius, so far, has been timidly involved in biotechnology.

This is exemplified by the very few institutions involved in biotechnology. For example:

We have only a few tissue culture laboratories producing tissue cultured plantlets,
We also have a few testing laboratories and a few private companies offering molecular diagnostic tests,
There is only one institution dealing with plant molecular breeding and genetic mapping.

The MSIRI under the aegis of the Mauritius Cane Industry Authority, FAREI and the University of Mauritius are the few institution that address biotechnology in their research and development programme.

Consequently we have not been able to tap the full extent of this technology.

This “état de lieu” is partly explained by the present lack of human resources strategic facilities for research and development, and innovation and regulatory bodies.

My Ministry is committed to redress this situation.

As you may be aware, I have reconstituted the National Biosafety Committee in March 2015.

This committee is an advisory committee set up to advise on all aspects concerning the importation, exportation, transit, development, research, production, use, application, marketing, sale and the release of Genetically Modified Organisms (“GMOs”) or on any other matter concerning GMOs.

Furthermore, I have already initiated actions to review the GMO Act 2004, which was only partially proclaimed in 2004.

I understand that a revised draft of the GMO Act is already available.

The associated regulations to accompany this law are being finalised.

All these initiatives will assist to protect human, animal and environmental health, protect consumers in making their choice regarding GMOs, and maintain an international quality and safety standards that facilitate trade.

This year, I am paving the way so that the GMO Act be fully proclaimed for it to play its regulatory functions.

I am also making provision for the setting of the National Biosafety Office in my Ministry to deal with the administrative matters pertaining to Biosafety, GMOs and to cater for the enforcement of the law.

Mauritius has achieved remarkable economic success over the years.

The country is now ready to transform itself into a high-income economy.

Innovation has been recognized, as the key driver of economic growth in terms of wealth generation and job creation and Biotechnology is one of the vehicles of innovation that could contribute positively towards this vision.

Government firmly believes that Biotechnology can make significant contributions to our national priorities particularly in the area of human health, environment, agro-industry and the agricultural sector.

Application of biotechnology will be critical to help Mauritius meet the new challenges facing us such as climate change, new pests and diseases outbreaks and growing demands for food, feed, fibre and biofuels in the years to come.

Today Brazil, is a clear example of what can be achieved with a full application of biotechnology.

Brazil has indeed made significant progress in applying biotechnology through high investment in the training of its local scientists abroad and presently Brazil is one of the leaders in biotechnology amongst developing countries.

Brazil has now the capacity to address its local problems and it is recognised as one of the biggest energy producer from renewable energy to have the biggest fleet using duel fuel vehicle using gasoline and ethanol.

And Brazil is also one of the leaders in agricultural production and technology.

In the region, South Africa is another good example where biotechnology has given several positive outcomes.

Mauritius has the potential to be a key player in the field of biotechnology in the region in the near future.

Already, the MSIRI has a well-defined R & D programme in biotechnology and the activities undertaken are comparable with similar sugar research institutes around the world.
It is imperative that similar initiatives are taken in the non-sugar crops, livestock and other sectors in Mauritius.

This will allow the country to respond to some of our major challenges such as food security, climate change, health, energy, environment and conservation.

Mauritius would also be in a position to tap in a first instance the potential of the regional market and African region for biotechnology products such as biopharmaceuticals and functional food among others.

You would recall that during the Budget speech 2016-2017, provision has been made to undertake a feasibility study for the setting up of a Mauritius Biotechnology Institute.

Indeed during the past decade, several reports have been prepared following the feasibility study for the setting up of a National Food and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute in 2002.

These reports have rightly demonstrated the urgency of the setting up of Biotechnology Institute.

They have also clearly spelt out that the setting-up of such an Institute needs to cater for both human and financial resources.

However, there have also been diverging views on the scope of biotechnology that this institute would cover.

From what I have gathered, some of us advocate that there should be a national institute gathering under one roof all fields of biotechnology including pharmaceutical, marine, industrial, and agricultural biotechnology.

In this context, it is rightly pointed that it might bring efficiency in the utilisation of resources including human, institutional and financial.

But, on the other hand, I have also been made to understand that bringing all these fields under one roof might yield practical difficulties, as each biotechnology field is specific and the requirements and needs can be very different.

I am sure that the debate on the scope could be long and prolific.

As I have mentioned, the application of biotechnology is vast.

It is not a single and simple discipline, but a series of specialised tools and technologies that would contribute to a range of scientific disciplines including physical, chemical and biological sciences.

The aim of the workshop today is thus to brainstorm and to come up with the most ideal and pragmatic mission for a biotechnology Institute for Mauritius.

I believe that one of the major outcomes of this workshop would help to determine the scope of the activities of a Biotechnology Institute and to define its priorities.

Dec 22, 2016

SUSTAINABLE FOOD CHALLENGERS - An NGO set up by Alumni of the Faculty of Agriculture

Sustainable Food Challengers team members

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Twitter twitter.com/sus_food_cha

Their Mission
Sustainable Food Challengers is a group of young dynamic and self-motivated youngsters aged between 22 to 25 years who aim at providing new sustainable solutions to meet the food security challenge. Each one in the group has their own expertise in the agricultural field. We are working together to revolutionise agriculture and set a new lifestyle to achieve global food security by maximising space use to cultivate crops through vertical farming using sustainable and renewable methods. The team also advocate the reduction of carbon dioxide emission and climate change.

Background
Sustainable Food Challengers team members are: Miss Jayshikha, Miss Anusha, Miss Naabilah and Mr Youdiesh. Some are fresh graduates while others have already started their career. The team members are deeply concerned about the amplifying facts that billions of people go to bed without food. we take the challenge of providing sustainable methods to feed 9 billion of people by 2050. Due to multiple factors: drought, loss of natural resources, industrialisation, flood, land erosion, and climate change conventional agriculture has been affected. So, we came up with new innovative ways to produce food using available renewable resources and less land which will be adaptable to the future. Keeping in mind all the limiting factors we came up with a new concept of green buildings. We are determined to take up the challenge and make use of our knowledge, skills and expertise to positively impact human lives. Each human being having access to safe and nutritious food at any time will become a reality soon. To most people agriculture can merely be getting dirty in the soil but for us it is a potential to feed billions of mouths. Together we can fight hunger and go for a greener and healthy world!