SEATTLE — Located east of Madagascar, the small island nation of Mauritius has experienced economic success. However, creating sustainable agriculture in Mauritius is a goal the nation is currently striving toward.
Mauritius uses about 40 percent of its land for agriculture, consisting mostly of sugar cane, which makes up 90 percent of the country’s entire crop yield according to NewAgriculturalist. Home to more than 1.2 million people, Mauritius produces roughly 100 percent of its demand for fresh vegetables and just under 50 percent of its demand for fruit.
While these statistics may look appealing, the country still imports more than 70 percent of its food requirements. Producing only 5 percent of the meat requirements and 2 percent of the dairy requirements, Mauritius relies heavily on international trade.[hr_invisible]
Struggles in Agriculture
Mauritius’ dependence on imported food caused the nation economic stress in 2008 when global food prices drastically increased. To wean Mauritius off imported food dependence, its government began to stress sustainable and self-sufficient agriculture. By improving the meat and dairy sectors, Mauritius aims to achieve self-sufficiency and dodge rising global food prices.
However, food prices are not the only thing preventing a sustainable agriculture sector in Mauritius. Issues like deforestation and sand mining have caused drastic erosion in the nation, leading to less arable land on the small island. According to NewAgriculturalist, the island contains only 2 percent of its original forests.
Being a small island, Mauritius is heavily impacted by climate change along with natural disasters like cyclones that can have devastating effects on local agriculture. To mitigate the effects of natural disasters, the Africa Adaptation Programme has been adopted by the government. The program uses mangroves and beach agriculture to protect the coast. It also includes the training of specialists to develop water storage techniques for irrigation purposes.
According to a Mauritius government press release, about 11 percent of its coasts have eroded since 1967 and live coral has decreased from 50 percent to 27 percent in the past 10 years. Erosion of the coasts along with extreme overfishing harms sustainable agriculture in Mauritius.[hr_invisible]
In 2014, a deal was struck between Mauritius and the European Union. The Fishery Partnership Agreement allowed countries like Spain, Italy, Portugal and France to fish in Mauritius’ waters in return for $275,129 in aid for Mauritius’ aquaculture technology advancements and development. The deal will last six years and is primarily targeting tuna fishing. However, the deal has increased competition, making things more difficult for local anglers.[hr_invisible]
Striving Toward Sustainable Agriculture in Mauritius
The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations developed the Country Programming Framework for Mauritius. The project’s overall goals are to:
- Support the agriculture business.
- Assist small-scale farmers in producing crops at a more efficient rate through coaching.
- Achieve sustainable agriculture in Mauritius.
- Create early warning systems for plant and animal diseases to prevent extreme crop loss and improve livestock farming.
- Support sustainable fisheries in Mauritius.
- Improve the sustainability of fisheries through the development and strengthening of fishery management by using more efficient techniques.
Sustainable agriculture in Mauritius is currently being tested by climate change, food imports, erosion and inefficient agriculture and aquaculture techniques. Through coaching and development of aquaculture strategies and gaining food independence by increasing local farming, Mauritius continues to move closer to achieving sustainable agriculture.
– Austin Stoltzfus