Mauritius: Various initiatives undertaken by the Ministry of Agro-Industry and Food Security in the context of World Food Day 2022 were launched this afternoon by the Attorney General, Minister of Agro-Industry and Food Security, Mr. Maneesh Gobin, at the Caudan Arts Centre in Port-Louis.
These are: ‘Bazar Moris’, which is an e-commerce Market Platform, a book on Agro-Processing entitled ‘Guide de la Transformation et de la Conservation des Produits Agricoles à Maurice’, as well as a new variety of tomatoes.
In his address, Minister Gobin said that the series of initiatives being spearheaded by the Ministry seeks to address various challenges being faced in the agriculture sector. He informed that the Guide book will provide information as to how to undertake agro-processing, whilst the e-commerce platform will enable farmers to market their products and the new tomato variety will cater for enhanced yields and heat and pest-resistant products.
He also dwelt on the two main pillars of policy-making of his Ministry, namely agro-processing and food waste reduction. He laid emphasis on the key benefits of agro-processing, including the transformation of local products into value-added goods that have a longer shelf life and will have year-round availability.
He indicated that each year a total value of Rs 300 million of tomato paste and puree and Rs 200 million of frozen potato chips are imported.
Agro-processing will therefore enable the production and transformation of products to meet local demand, affirmed the Minister.
Speaking about the second pillar, Mr Maneesh Gobin recalled that according to the UNEP report 2021, roughly 30 per cent of the food produced worldwide is wasted every year and said that the Ministry is resolved to tackle food waste through various measures including food transformation processes.
Furthermore, the Minister expressed gratitude to the United Nations Development Programme (UNPD) and the Japanese Government for their collaboration in the Bazar Moris project.
He also announced the holding of major events, including the Salon de l’Industrie Locale in December 2022 and the Salon de l’Agriculture in March 2023, which is essentially geared towards giving full support to local production.
As for the Resident Representative, of UNDP Mauritius and Seychelles, Ms Amanda Serumaga, she expressed conviction that the Bazar Moris can serve as a driver for growth and sustainability in the agro sector. She stated that the success of this platform would require the traditional farmers and the younger generation to embrace this technology and a new way of doing business.
She also informed that the implementation of this free virtual market is expected to contribute to the transformation of the fruit and vegetable marketplace; help farmers to bridge the gap between buyers and sellers, and to create opportunities for expansion of the value chains through new products; to strengthen the regulations, standards and norms for sales, the practice of average pricing, enhanced market efficiency, avoidance of shortages and wastage through planned production and strengthen food security.
On the same occasion, an award was conferred to Mrs Saraye Banumaty, who works as a Senior Research Scientist at the Food and Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (FAREI), for recognition of the work carried out under the IAEA project ‘Women in Plant Mutation Breeding Award’.
The new variety of tomato at FAREI: “Jupiter.”
“Jupiter”, the new variety of tomato, is the result of a research programme that was initiated at the FAREI through the introduction and evaluation of new varieties of tomato, with the aim to identify better performing varieties in terms of higher yield, adapted to the changing climatic conditions and to broaden the range of varieties available locally.
Under this programme, ten tomato varieties were introduced by the World Vegetable Centre, Taiwan, in 2019. Results obtained from the evaluation trial have shown that one variety namely CLN 2498 D has shown promising results in terms of yield, fruit shape and quality and tolerance to major diseases. In addition, during conducted tours and on-farm trials carried out, growers preferred this variety among the ten under test.
CLN 2498 D is an open-pollinated variety with a semi-determinate growth habit. The variety produces oblong-shaped fruit, red in colour, with an average weight of 90-100g and an average yield of 17 t/ha in humid and 30t/ha in the sub-humid zone. Being an open-pollinated variety, growers are encouraged to save seeds from their products for the next plantation and thus become self-sufficient in their seed requirement.
This variety can be used as raw material for processing into different products (puree, ketchup, pizza sauce, “rougaille” and chutney).
“Bazar Moris” – A trading platform for agricultural produce
The “Bazar Moris” is an open trading platform, mainly for agricultural produce. It is an initiative of the Ministry of Agro-Industry and Food Security and funded by the UNDP under Japanese cooperation. This e-Commerce platform aims at providing a modern digital trading facility to the farming community, wholesalers, retailers, entrepreneurs in agro-processing, delivery service operators and consumers, amongst others.