Limited access to land, technical support to farmers and becoming self-sufficient remain Seychelles' greatest challenges in the agricultural sector, said the outgoing Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) representative.
Patrice Talla Takoukam spoke after a farewell visit to President Danny Faure at State House on Friday
"Seychelles being a small country has many challenges when it comes to agriculture," he said. "It is important for Seychelles to continuously allocate land to farmers so that they can continuously produce for the population, thus, ensuring food security."
Tatoukam said that access to land is not the only issue and that "it will depend on if the land is ecologically good for agriculture because if the land is not good, there will be no output, hence, a waste of money."
The FAO representative said technical support and assistance is also important for farmers to able to produce more.
"A perfect environment is needed that will facilitate local farmers to reach the local market. More importantly, it is important to look at the need of the younger farmers, and by that, I am talking about providing proper incentives for them to stay in the sector," he said.
In July last year, the Cabinet of Ministers approved a new policy that will facilitate graduates from the Seychelles Institute of Agriculture and Horticulture with access to parcels of state-owned lands for agricultural development.
Seychelles becoming self-sufficient in certain areas in agriculture was another topic discussed.
"The level of importation is having an economical and nutritional impact on the population. We can reduce importation and inject that money to develop agriculture, which will, in turn, ensure quality of agricultural output. It is much safer to eat what you produce," said Takoukam.
The visit of Takoukam in Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, was also an opportunity to talk about the different projects the island nation received support from FAO.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation is supporting Seychelles with the drafting of a National Forest Policy. The $275,000 project is expected to be implemented over an 18-month period. It will include training, forest policy analysis and public consultations.
The FAO last year pledged a sum of $148,000, to help Seychelles put a pest management system in place to fight against the invasive Euproctis caterpillar (hairy caterpillar) through a 24-month project. This will include laboratory equipment and technical assistance from experts to build the capacity of local staff to handle the scientific work associated with the caterpillar. It will also cover the cost of developing a database for insects, pests and others related to the hairy caterpillar and designing stronger and more effective methods to control populations of the species.
The caterpillar starting affecting inhabitants in February 2015 when people reported developing an itchy skin rash after coming in contact with the species.