“With the aim of increasing the visibility of local organic farming and providing farmers with a platform to market their products, the Ministry of Agro-Industry and Food Security is considering the possibility of catering for dedicated zones for the sales of organic food in local markets and at the Wooton National Wholesale Market.”
This announcement was made, yesterday afternoon, by the Minister of Agro-Industry and Food Security, Mr Teeruthraj Hurdoyal, during his address at the launching of an Inception Workshop focusing on ‘Enhancing Organic Farming through Value Chain Analysis’, held at the Hennessy Park Hotel in Ebène.
In his speech, the Agro-Industry Minister deplored the slow trend in the local organic farming sector. He recognised that there was a need to tackle challenges including certification, lack of labour, the need for significant resources, time and investment, amongst others.
Mr Teeruthraj Hurdoyal remarked that in addition to these challenges, there was still a heavy use of pesticides by farmers which, he deplored, was saturating agricultural land and depleting soil fertility.
On that score, the Minister renewed his resolve to look into all the challenges being faced by local farmers in the undertaking of organic farming and encouraged young entrepreneurs to avail of the support measures and schemes being offered by the Government to start their farming activities.
“Producing our own organic food locally will not only provide our population with nutritious products but also reduce our importation and contribute to long-term food security,” emphasised Minister Hurdoyal. He stressed that there was a need to revive the sector, recalling that there was already an existing demand from tourists and expatriates as well as health-conscious consumers.
As regards ensuring a niche market, the Minister of Agro-Industry underlined the necessity of educating the young population on the health benefits of organic food whilst urging stakeholders of the sector to facilitate the marketing and sales of locally produced organic food to create constant demand, thus giving a boost to the sector.
Other key announcements made by Minister Teeruthraj Hurdoyal included the elaboration of a marketing and communication strategy as well as the setting up of a one-stop-shop for organic farming activities to bring under one single roof all related government institutions and services and to assist and guide farmers. In addition, the Minister informed that more dedicated farming zones would be catered for organic farming.
The workshop was a joint endeavour of the Ministry of Agro-Industry and Food Security in collaboration with the Food and Agricultural Research and Extension Institute.
The objectives were namely to provide a platform for all value chain actors in the organic farming sector to engage in dialogue and knowledge exchange; understand the bottlenecks and issues faced by various stakeholders along the organic farming value chain; brainstorm and propose innovative solutions to address challenges; foster a deeper understanding of the importance of value chain analysis in enhancing organic farming practices, and generate actionable strategies that would drive the development and expansion of organic farming in Mauritius.