Agriculture’s increasingly important role in the development strategy of the Seychelles government, as our country becomes more vulnerable to external shocks, was the focus of a one-day workshop yesterday.
The workshop at the International Conference Centre was attended by the Minister for Investment, Natural Resources and Industry, Peter Sinon, his principal secretaries, as well as representatives of the Seychelles Agricultural Agency, the Seychelles Fishing Authority and other related organisations.
Also present was Frederick Msiska, the GISAMA Coordinator for COMESA — of which Seychelles is a signatory — and Cyril Monty, consultant of the Indian Ocean Commission.
Launching the workshop, the principal secretary for Investment and Natural Resources, Michael Nalletamby, said in recent years, flooding, wildfires, the global economic recession and piracy have increased the vulnerability of Seychelles in terms of food security.
Being at the mercy of external shocks has prompted Seychelles to strive towards greater food sufficiency, which presently stands at only 3% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), minus exports of processed tuna, he said.
Mr Nalletamby noted that our link with CAADP, which was institutionalised by the African Union at a conference in Maputo in 2003, means supporting the development of a comprehensive agricultural programme covering all the major agricultural sectors of crops, livestock, fisheries and forestry.
Yesterday’s workshop focussed on what will feature in the new agricultural strategy, which will align itself on other national development plans.
The Seychelles government and key stakeholders have identified five main priority areas for national development, all of which reduces Seychelles’ vulnerability to external shocks, build resilience of the national economy and provide the basis for long-term sustainable development.
They are: (a) renewable energy and water, (b) human resource development, (c) economic infrastructure, including transport and ICT, (d) food security, trade and diversification, (e) development of national statistics.
Some of the more salient development objectives that are to be met are to reduce foreign currency leakage, enhance farm income, improve lifelihoods and create national wealth for investment in other sectors, increase national GDP contribution of the sector and optimise the use of scarce economic factors of production such as land, labour capital.
Other key development objectives are to enhance the health of the local population and to optimise the level of local environmental services through sound agricultural practices.
According to the agricultural production targets for food items consumed locally for the next five years, 100% of pork, broiler chicken and table eggs will be produced locally as well as 80% of fruit and vegetables.