A training course in Hydroponics Crop Production and Greenhouse Management, aimed at encouraging entrepreneurship in green and sustainable agri-business activities among co-operative planters, was launched, today, at the National Cooperative College (NCC), in Terre Rouge. Some 75 co-operative planters and unemployed persons are participating.
The course, which covers both theoretical and practical aspects of hydroponics, is being offered jointly by the NCC, the University of Mauritius (UoM), and the Food and Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (FAREI).
In his address, the Minister of Industrial Development, SMEs and Cooperatives, Soomilduth Bholah, recalled that the course is in line with Government's policy to drive agricultural innovation and promote sustainable agriculture and food production. The training, he said, focuses on providing essential basic knowledge and practical skills pertaining to crop production.
The Minister also lauded the benefits of hydroponics farming which are namely: water conservation, use of fewer chemicals, space saving, faster growth, nutrient control, bigger yields, no soil erosion, and healthier plants.
This emerging sector, Mr Bholah indicated, is aligned with initiatives promoting the protection of the environment and of public health, food safety, and entrepreneurship. He also highlighted that hydroponics farming requires less pesticides and herbicides, resulting therefore in healthier food for consumption.
The Hydroponics course
This part-time course is of a 30-hour duration and will be conducted once weekly at the NCC. Practical sessions will be held at the Mapou Model Farm and the UoM Labs.
The topics being covered include: introduction to agriculture and hydroponics, greenhouse models and structures, fertigation and nutrient solution preparation, management of greenhouse environment, pre/post cyclone management practices, troubleshooting, choice of varieties of crop, seedling production, cultural practices, pest and disease management, and harvest and post-harvest practices.
It is recalled that financing plans for hydroponics are available at FAREI and the Development Bank of Mauritius.