Boosting Climate-Smart Agriculture in Mauritius via Sheltered Farming and Hydroponics

Mauritius: Sheltered Farming/Hydroponics Boosting Innovative and Climate Resilient Agricultural Systems Across Mauritius

Setting up of Shielded Farms

The establishment of protected ranches in Mauritius is gaining popularity as part of the government’s plan to boost agrarian development and economic agribusiness.

Shielded Farming for Climate Resilience

FAREI has granted protected cultivation plots to 59 growers for nursery development, with over 200 applications received. Subsequently, Budget 2022/23 offers a 50% boost for hydroponics purchases and VAT exemption for protected cultivates

Climate-Resilient Agriculture Support

For the Financial Year 2022/23, the government has reserved a total of Rs 50 million to help motivate producers to adopt this environmentally friendly generation method, which cuts down the use of insecticides and pesticides by half. Furthermore, this initiative aims to boost climate-smart agriculture and enhance food security in Mauritius.

FAREI Grant Applications

FAREI is preparing over 50 applications for the Rs 500,000 grant, including those from Small Farmer Welfare Fund (SFWF) growers in the agro-industrial sector, who are engaged in the production of high-value crops and horticultural and nutritional crops in a 0.5-hectare area. Additionally, this initiative aims to support small-scale farmers and promote sustainable agricultural practices.

Conventional Open-Field Farming

Conventionally in agribusiness, farmers grew produce in open fields, clarifies Mr. A. Goolaub, who is the Ag. Chief Executive Officer at FAREI. However, over time, climate change, pest and disease attacks have impacted production in open fields.

Benefits of Shielded Farming

Farmers use protected cultivating, a method where they grow plants in a structure, such as a nursery with a plastic roof or a creepy crawly verification net-house, in order to protect them from pests and bad weather, consequently resulting in superior vegetable quality.

Hydroponics and Shielded Farming

Mauritius’ hydroponic nursery systems, established in 2000, offer mineral supplements for plant growth, with ten nurseries producing tomato and English cucumber, generating 10,000 tons annually.

What is hydroponics?

Hydroponics is the cultivation of plants without soil, using dormant media with nutrient-rich conditions, oxygen, and water. This method promotes fast growth, higher yields, and high quality.

  • While natural products and vegetables conventionally develop in the ground, hydroponics is created in nurseries or closed and controlled environments. 
  • Hydroponics requires fewer pesticides and herbicides, which translates into more beneficial nourishment for utilization. The other focal points are investment funds in water and space. 

 

  • Crops that are developed in hydroponics are: bean, cucumber, lettuce, melon, snow pea, sweet pepper, tomato, strawberry, and ornamentals such as gerbera and rose. 

Establishing a hydroponic system

A 270 m2 hydroponics unit requires 400 m2 of space, including a nursery, pump house, water tank, and store, along with a concrete stage.

To establish a hydroponic counting system, meet conditions like level arrival, water supply, electric control, skilled labor, and acquire necessary equipment and materials.

Proag's Transition to Shielded Farming

Mr. Sanjay Proag, a local cultivator from Camp de Masque Pavé, subsequently transitioned from open cultivation to shielded farming in 2017, where he employed around ten workers to produce tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplants, and strawberries.

Mr. Proag, utilizing 2000 m2 of land, acquired a protected cultivation plot for Rs 250,000, thereby reducing pesticide use, labor, and production. Subsequently, the Service of Agro-Industry and Nutrition Security supported the project.

The local farmer also emphasizes his intention to expand his sheltered farming project in the future to progress and subsequently benefit from the Rs 500,000 protected cultivation plot in that endeavor.

Application Process

  • Candidates must submit application form and supporting documents to FAREI sub-offices.
     
  • Documents include SFWF registration card, Identity Card, relevant agricultural permits, proof of funding, and supplier quotations.


  • Beneficiaries must sign agreement with Ministry of Agro-Industry and Food Security upon financial support approval.

  • Application forms are available at FAREI’s Crop Extension Sub Offices across Mauritius.

 

Source:https://allafrica.com/stories/202211080475.html

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