Minister Maneesh Gobin: “The National Biomass Framework about to be finalized”
“We are bringing back abandoned land under sugar cane cultivation”. This is what Maneesh Gobin, the minister of Agro-industry stated in the balance sheet of his ministry for the past year. After the release of a publication by the World Bank on the reform of the sugar sector. The ministry made sure to implement the necessary recommendations. As a result, for 2022, about 579 planters have profited from the Cane Replantation Scheme. Furthermore, 377 hectares of fields have been replanted with the help of this plan. When it comes to the rehabilitation of abandoned land, 138 beneficiaries are concerned for 81 hectares, points out the minister.
In regards to field mechanization, planters are using old equipment. “It is for this reason that the MCIA has acquired three tractors for around Rs 3 million to be made available to cane growers and for the non-sugar sector,” he said. In addition, the MCIA has also acquired a second harvester from India for cooperative societies and small planters. Others will be acquired, as is the case in Fiji.
The minister stated that they would be maintaining the Guaranteed Price policy of Rs 25,000 for the production of 60 tons of sugar. He also added that there was an injustice in the last three years, as there were deductions from 2019 to 2021, almost Rs 2,400 for each ton produced by small planters. He reassured that this year, they have refund the amount owed to the planters for a total of almost Rs 105 million.
The advance Fertizer Scheme for the sugar cane sector has gone from Rs 55 million to almost Rs 105 million, says the minister. “We had also announced the reimbursement of Rs 3.50 per kw/h hour of electricity, or Rs 3,300 per ton of sugar. The project is going in the right direction. The National Biomass Framework will soon be finalized after Cabinet approval,” he added.
Concerning the price of sugar on the world market, Maneesh Gobin said that it has increased recently and that the country has benefited from it. He also highlighted that the price used to be Rs 10,000 per ton in the past. However, recently it has gone up to Rs 16,765 per ton. In addition, he recalled that the voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) has known an increase, with 266 beneficiaries having been able to acquire their title deeds.
Regarding non-sugar sector, Maneesh Gobin explains that 1.8 ton of potato seeds were produced. In addition, that the Askari Onion and the “Pommes d’amour Jupiter” were launched with the help of FAREI and the Small Farmers Welfare Fund. The minister recalls that the “Pommes d’amour Jupiter” which adapts to microclimates, has won an award.
An Agricultural Comeback
Returning to the results of his ministry for this year, Maneesh Gobin made it clear that in 2020, the agricultural sector had experienced a decline of 2.5% due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, he states that for 2020/21 a growth of 9.5%, and that his ministry intends on continuing on this momentum. No less than 35,000 people are directly employed in the agricultural sector says the minister. “At the sectoral level, we are achieving self-sufficiency in fresh chicken, i.e 49,000 tons for 2021/22,” he added.
For the sugar sector, production is 255,800 tonnes. But regarding this financial year, the 2022/2023 budget is Rs 2.4 billion, an increase of 10%. He adds that this year, about Direct Subsidies at the FAREI level, a total of 500 projects and beneficiaries are concerned, for a total amount of Rs 67.8 million.
“At the level of Sheltered Farming, we spent around Rs 50 million for a total of 189 beneficiaries. In addition, 148 people benefited from the purchase of equipment for Rs 10 million”, he reveals. In addition to 85 beneficiaries for the purchase of CCTV Cameras, Upgrading of Farm (Rs 1 million), etc. “In total, there are therefore 497 beneficiaries for Rs 67.9 million,” said the minister.
For Direct Subsidies through the Small Farmers Welfare Fund, the government has spent Rs 155 million to finance 12 schemes, including the Fertilizers Scheme. No less than 3,531 planters were also able to obtain fertilizer at half price. “There is also the Bio Farming Support, which concerned 109 planters, or the Tea Sector Support Scheme, which came to the aid of 1,060 planters. More than Rs 6 million was also spent on Winter Allowance for the tea sector. Not to mention 48 beneficiaries of the mini-Tea Harvester and 363 others of mechanization, while the Crop Loss Scheme benefited 5,619 people for a total of 8,642 acres. Finally, 538 people obtained Duty Free facilities for the purchase of vehicles”, concludes the Minister.