IFAD technical assistance to help develop seed sector in Mauritius, leading to future food security

Rome, 26 May 2016 – The Republic of Mauritius and the United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) signed a Reimbursable Technical Assistance (RTA) agreement today to develop the country’s seed sector, an important first step to increasing food production and food security for local communities.

The agreement was signed in Port Louis by Mahen Kumar Seeruttun, Minister of Agro-Industry and Food Security of Mauritius, and by Sana F.K. Jatta, Regional Director, Eastern and Southern Africa Division of IFAD.

Currently Mauritius produces about 15,000 tons of food crops annually, meeting just 25 per cent of the country’s food needs. Having to import such a high percentage of food to feed its population has made Mauritius vulnerable to global food supply and price fluctuations. During the global food crisis in 2008, for example, Mauritius could not meet local demands for staples such as rice and wheat when global commodity prices rose sharply and supply countries restricted exports in order to secure food for their own populations.

Since then, the government began focusing more attention on increasing domestic food production and food security in the country. Among the first initiatives passed was the 2013 Seed Act, which provides for better regulation of the seed sector and ensures availability of improved varieties of high-quality seeds to smallholder farmers.  

The RTA signed today responds to the government’s request that IFAD assist in the strategic development of the country’s seed sector.

“The signing of this first Reimbursable Technical Assistance agreement with Mauritius marks an important milestone in the history of our partnership,” said Jatta. “It is a strong signal to start the implementation of this new business model that many middle-income country members of IFAD are requesting. IFAD is committed to working closely with the Government of Mauritius to make this agreement a success.”

Within the RTA, IFAD will provide support to Mauritius to mobilize required expertise to set up the operational framework for the development of its seed sector following a service delivery and result-based approach. Acting as a broker, IFAD will work through its wide agricultural network to match the country’s technical assistance needs with regional and international expertise. The RTA will be developed in close consultation with the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) who have committed to providing support in drafting regulations for the implementation of the Seed Act.

IFAD and FAO will also work together to set the regulatory and operational framework to check the quality of imported seeds entering the national market and to provide information to the farmers on new varieties available from the seed suppliers.

Both institutions will actively support local seed enterprises and the setup of regulatory frameworks for harmonized standards or systems under the Southern African Development Community and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa for quality seed production and trade at national and regional levels.

The RTA will be implemented by the Ministry of Agro-Industry and Food Security.

Between 1979 and 2013, IFAD invested a total of US$23.1 million in three programmes and projects in Mauritius. This has generated a total investment of $39.8 million, benefiting 20,330 rural households.

 

Press release No.: IFAD/33/2016
IFAD invests in rural people, empowering them to reduce poverty, increase food security, improve nutrition and strengthen resilience. Since 1978, we have provided US$17.7 billion in grants and low-interest loans to projects that have reached about 459 million people. IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialized United Nations agency based in Rome – the UN’s food and agriculture hub.