The Ministry of Agro Industry and Food Security and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) signed on 3 September 2015, in Port Louis a Technical Cooperation Project (TCP) on support for the development of Organic farming and institutional capacity building in Mauritius.
Under the TCP, the FAO will assist Mauritius to strengthen national capabilities on organic agriculture through proposed amendments to legislation, draft of secondary regulations, develop strategic plans and training manuals. It also makes provision for the training of farmers, researchers, programme managers and technicians. In addition, a study tour in a certification body abroad will be planned for Officers of the technical cadre.
It is expected that at the end of the project, Mauritius will benefit from an improved legal framework and adequate technical capacity to support the organic agricultural management system that will ensure enhanced food security, rural development, sustainable livelihoods and environmental integrity through trainings. The project will cater for the transfer of modern and conventional approaches as well as networking, building capacities in organic production, processing, certification and marketing in Mauritius.
As the production of quality organic food goes hand in hand with a robust system based on good monitoring tools and a sound management system, the project will ensure that certified farm products do comply with requirements of international norms. Through the implementation of this TCP, the Government will be able to set up such a system where consumers develop the confidence to purchase organic vegetables and fruits solely because these food items would have been certified by a certifying body that complies with International standards.
This agreement is in line with the endeavour of the Government to promote organic food production. The current budget 2015-2016 has spelt out Government's commitment towards support to sustainable agricultural development and safe food production for the local market and access to international trade as well as reducing the high reliance on chemical inputs. Government's ambition is to produce not less than 50% of the total food production according to bio norms.
Collaboration between Mauritius and FAO
Mauritius is a member of the FAO since 1968 and has over the years benefitted from several technical assistance programmes to implement a wide range of projects in the agriculture, fisheries and forestry sectors. These programmes have provided technical assistance to strengthen the national capacity of the Ministry of Agro Industry and Food Security, namely
· management of pig health and production for the re-launching of the pig industry in 2009 following the outbreak of the swine fever
· strengthening of the Official control and Certification Authorities for plant, animal and food products in 2010
· support to formulate the SADC Regional Agricultural Policy in 2010
· conduct of a census of Agriculture in 2014
· reorganisation and strengthening of the capacities of the Agricultural Services of the Ministry with a view to modernising the agricultural sector and to reconvert it into a flourishing pillar of the economy
· drafting of three regulations under the Seeds Act 2013
Government also signed the Country Programming Framework for Mauritius for period 2014-2019. The Programming Framework, which is a tool for the FAO Country-Level Strategic Prioritisation and overall medium-term country level programming, establishes the strategic link between the country's development goals and FAO's Strategic Framework.
One of the main FAO - Government collaboration which has been identified for immediate implementation in the Country Programming Framework relates to the promotion of organic agriculture through the development of relevant institutional framework, voluntary standards and market promotion for selected strategic crops and livestock products.