A national stakeholders sensitisation workshop on the SADC Regional Agricultural Policy opened, yesterday, at the Holiday Inn Hotel, Mon Trésor, Plaine Magnien. The Attorney General, Minister of Agro-Industry and Food Security, Mr Maneesh Gobin, was present.
In his address, Minister Gobin recalled that the SADC Regional Agricultural Investment Plan, funded by the European Union, was prepared in the context of the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme which was established in Maputo in 2003 as a Pan-African policy framework to transform agriculture, create wealth, improve food security and nutrition and promote inclusive economic growth. The SADC Investment Plan, he said, was approved in July 2016 to operationalise the present Regional Agricultural Policy that will contribute to regional integration, by accelerating agricultural development, increasing regional trade and facilitating movement of services, finances and people across borders.
Speaking about the objectives of the Investment Plan, Mr Gobin indicated that it aims at enhancing information on agricultural production, sustainability and competitiveness for evidence-based decision-making; improving access to markets through implementation of plant and animal pest and disease control strategies at the regional level; and facilitating implementation of some components of the Regional Food and Nutrition Security Strategy in SADC Member States.
The Minister pointed out that the project is in line with the mandate of Government which aims at bringing transformational changes so as to ensure the long term sustainability of the sector. The overall objective, he underpinned, is to increase organic production, adopt new technologies and undertake agricultural land suitability studies for better planning, encourage production of bio and organic sugar for higher revenues, enhance the supply and value chains of the agricultural sector and promote value addition to local products, and promote the development and production of superfoods and the creation of a nutraceutical sector.
Acknowledging the contribution of the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations to the agricultural sector in Mauritius, Minister Gobin stated that the country programming framework of the FAO has been a guiding tool to enable the Ministry of Agro-Industry and Food Security to take regular and consistent steps to promote organic farming, institutional reforms, drafting of legislation for forestry sector, food safety, capacity building of personnel, and relaunching of the tea. He also announced that the Ministry will soon embark on the drafting of the 2020-2024 strategic plan of the Agricultural sector.