Mauritius imports Rs25 billion of meat products every year., while only 4.8% of bovine products consumed by Mauritians and 2.4% of sheep, lamb and mutton products are locally produced.
The country is self-sufficient in terms of poultry products but produces only 100 tons of beef meat and imports 2,200 tons. It produces only 120 tons of mutton, sheep and lamb of the 4,800 tons which is consumed everyyear.
Even though the government has voted Rs1 billion for the transformation of the agro-industry sector to improve self-sufficiency in terms of vegetables, meat and dairy products, there is a risk that in the future people here might find themselves in a situation where they have money but no proper foodstuffs for consumption.
That’s the warning Minister of Agro Industry and Food Security, Mr Satish Faugoo, who pointed out that 70% of the products consumed by Mauritians are imported “which is very dangerous for a small island state like Mauritius”.
But Mr Faugoo was very upbeat about Rodrigues which he said could become a grocery for Mauritius. He is visiting Rodrigues this week to consolidate the project to transform the island into a potential supplier of cattle and other products to Mauritius.
The minister explained that the government has set up a series of schemes to encourage Mauritians in the agroindustry sector, such asthe Food Security Fund which provides facilities like cash grants and land for new projects.
His ministry has also launched a campaign to encourage planters to cultivate more potatoes. “We produced 40% of the potatoes we consumed in 2008 and last year the local production nearly doubled. We are aiming to boost local production of potatoes to 90% and local production of ginger to 80% this year.”
Mr Faugoo emphasised that the government would be ready to support farmers and breeders who want to import genetically modified cattle and seeds for better yield. “We want farmers to adopt modern farming methods. Some farmers have been rearing goats and obtained only 7.5kg of meat per animal. We need to import better breeds.”
By Nitesh Boodhoo