Recession, water shortage, inflation…A year littered with challenges for local producers
Vegetable producers have experienced some relief as a result of the recent modest rains. The latter, however, are afraid of the heavy rains that may hit the nation in the upcoming days and weeks.
It’s no secret that Mauritius imports a wide variety of goods that are sold on the global market. Total imports during the third quarter of 2022 totaled Rs 77.05 billion, up 40.7% over the same quarter in 2021, according to Statistics Mauritius.
For the third quarter of 2022, the trade deficit was Rs. 50.16 billion. The overall imports for 2022 should be roughly Rs 300 billion, or 39.5% greater than in 2021, according to Statistics Mauritius. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, had highlighted the value of local production and increased awareness across the island.
Operators that expect to be able to produce more and better will face several hurdles in 2023, which has only just begun. Water, however, is one important component that causes anxiety. General Manager of Agrex Limited and Field Good Fresh Foods Limited Alban de Spéville emphasizes the challenge farmers face while formulating projections. “The quality of the veggies was harmed by flooding and the lack of a cyclone and rain. Most farmers are successful in getting enough water to irrigate their land. It is quite extraordinary that there are so many vegetables on the market, he claims.
The threat to local production is not limited to just one restriction. It will not be exempt from the effects of the global recession that is starting to take shape. This is a two-edged sword, according to Jacqueline Sauzier, secretary general of the Mauritius Chamber of Agriculture. “There is no doubt that we need to generate more, but at what cost?” she asks.
This issue also comes up because of how the conflict in Ukraine has affected the price of basic supplies, particularly seeds. Jacqueline Sauzier also demonstrates how fertilizer costs have risen since the recession. She calls the equilibrium between the cost of production and purchasing power “precarious.”
Local production could nevertheless benefit from the fact that the price of gas in Europe is starting to fall. Alban de Spéville points out that this could cause a drop in prices in Mauritius. “It’s the energy used to produce the fertilizers. Ukraine and Russia are major producers of potash and the war had caused disruption in the distribution of this product,” he explains.