The first potato harvest in Glen Park was launched, this morning, by the Attorney General, Minister of Agro-Industry and Food Security, Mr Maneesh Gobin, in the presence of potato planters who are regrouped under the Agricultural Development and marketing Association (ADMA). The Minister thereafter effected a field visit in Glen Park and proceeded to Bigara and Plaine Sophie to take stock of the cultivation of potatoes in these regions.
In a statement following the launching event, Minister Gobin said that the Covid-19 pandemic has made people aware of the importance of food security and food self-sufficiency. 'Now is the time for Mauritians to become planters and to consume what we have planted and plant what we consume', he highlighted.
The Minister also recalled that there are more and more young qualified people who are joining the agro-business despite the various difficulties faced by planters such as fierce competition, lack of labour, and rising importation costs. Government, he further pointed out, is encouraging the mechanisation of agriculture. A Harvestor machine to the tune of Rs 15 million has been acquired for the cooperative sector for the cutting of sugar cane, he added.
In addition, Mr Gobin stated that an increase of land under potato cultivation and other vegetables has been registered, thus resulting in more harvest and less importation of these crops. He also encouraged more people to process agricultural plant-based products into valuable marketing products such as converting potatoes into chips.
Furthermore, the Minister spoke about a new variety of potatoes 'Vigora' developed by the Food and Agricultural Research and Extension Institute which, he said, is more adapted to the climate in Mauritius and resistant to several diseases.
For his part, the President of the ADMA, Mr Kaviraj Santchurn highlighted that the association regroups some 30 young planters. Speaking about the difficulties these planters faced during the lockdown period, he pointed out that the Ministry of Agro-Industry and Food Security had nevertheless provided them with numerous facilities such as subsidies to face the challenges during these difficult times.
Potato cultivation in Mauritius
In Mauritius, potato is cultivated during two seasons, from 15 April to 30 June, and from July to end of August. Harvest is carried out from mid-June to mid-December. Some 200 tonnes of potato seeds are cultivated on a total acreage of 700 hectares. Production ranges generally from 17 000 to 19 000 tonnes.
The regions of La Marie and Glen Park have been involved in the production of potato crops since several years and have contributed significantly to the overall national production. On average, 60 growers undertake potato cultivation, covering a total acreage of 64 hectares with an annual production of 1 340 tonnes.