Budget 2018-2019 aims at fostering a new wave of import substitution industry and reviving export-led production, which are essential not only to boost private investment and generate jobs but also to reduce the country's trade and current account deficits.
The Budget underlines Government's objective of ushering in a new era of import substitution wherein focus will be on the production of food crops. In this context, provision has been made for the implementation of a Sheltered Farming Scheme which provides for the setting up of 100 farms over the next two years. Moreover, the Budget enunciates the elaboration of a Mini Sheltered Farming Scheme serving to promote micro gardens, vertical agriculture and roof top gardening, under which, a grant of up to Rs 10 000 will be given to eligible families.
In a bid to move towards a sustainable development model, Government will ensure that sheltered farms will be equipped with rain harvesting systems and photovoltaic technology. Funds will be provided for the sensitisation and training of households in aquaponics for the production of water adaptive vegetables in freshwater ponds and basins while the Albion Fisheries Research Centre will provide fish fingerlings freely for the aquaponics projects.
A new Scheme promoting a mix of agricultural and electricity production will be set up to give small planters and cooperatives the opportunity to improve their income. Moreover, a land data bank will be created to map out abandoned agricultural lands throughout the island to bring them back under cultivation.
Food Security Programme
Several measures will also be implemented under the Food Security Programme, namely: Rs 30 million for a new Crop Insurance Scheme for planters; increase in the subsidy on the production of onion and potato seeds; setting up of a National Animal Identification System to electronically identify each animal with a unique number to better protecting livestock from outbreak of diseases; and setting up of a new system by the Mauritius Meat Authority for the collection, slaughter and sale of pigs.
As regards the tea sector, a monthly income support of 50 cents per kilo of tea leaves harvested by small planters during the 3 months winter period, that is July to September, will be given to small tea growers.
Furthermore, a Ministerial Committee will assess the situation regarding to the cane industry that has been buffeted by a sharp decrease in the world sugar price, and subsequently come up with an appropriate action plan for the cane industry to meet its challenges. Provision has also been made for the Mauritius Cane Industry Authority to meet the 17 shortfall arising from the suspension of CESS payments for Crop 2018 and for an increase in customs duty on import of sugar from 15 percent to 80 percent.