Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), will meet top officials in the Republic of Mauritius and the Republic of Seychelles when he travels to the two countries on 3 – 9 March.
Small island states are faced with unique challenges, including vulnerabilities to climate change, global financial shocks and increases in food and fuel prices. Being far from major markets in Asia and the Pacific, Mauritius and Seychelles pay high freight and insurance fees on imported goods. These costs have been exacerbated in recent years by the heightened risk of piracy in the Indian Ocean. The threat of piracy has also caused volatility and losses in the fisheries and tourism sectors. To ensure food security for all, the focus on agricultural development is becoming a priority for these middle-income countries, driven mostly by earnings from the fisheries and tourism sectors.
“Mixing agriculture and tourism can provide high-quality, organic products to hotels, supermarkets and other markets, as well as increasing employment opportunities for youth,” said Nwanze on the eve of his departure. “This kind of approach allows the two sectors to not only coexist but complement each other.”
“IFAD’s experience has been that if given the right support, smallholder farmers can double or triple their production, even in the face of climate change and environmental degradation,” Nwanze added.
In the countries’ capitals of Port Louis and Victoria, Nwanze’s meetings with top government leaders will focus on partnerships, climate change, smallholder agriculture and rural development, food security and youth employment.
“The adverse effects of climate change and sea-level rise present significant risks to the sustainable development of small island developing states,” Nwanze said. “We should identify resilient farming practices and techniques, which are especially important for small island states. These techniques can boost agricultural production and create an enabling environment for smallholder farmers to grow their businesses as well as their crops.”
In Mauritius, Nwanze will meet President Rajkeswur Purryag, Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam, Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Xavier-Luc Duval and the Minister of Agro Industry and Food Security, Satya Veyash Faugoo.
Nwanze also will meet the Secretary General of the Indian Ocean Commission, Jean Claude de L’Estrac, to discuss food security issues in the region. The Indian Ocean Commission is an inter-governmental organization bringing together Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles and the French island of Réunion to enhance regional cooperation for sustainable development.
While in Mauritius, Nwanze will visit the IFAD-supported programme, Marine and Agricultural Resources Support Programme to learn first-hand how project participants have improved their lives.
In Seychelles Nwanze will meet with President James Michel; the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jean-Paul Adam; the Minister of Finance, Trade and Investment, Pierre Laporte; the Minister of Natural Resources and Industry, Peter Sinon, and the Minister of Environment and Energy, Rolph Payet. In addition, Nwanze will study the location for a new IFAD-supported project that will aim to link smallholder farmers to the hotel and restaurant industry through public-private partnerships.
Earlier, IFAD has supported the Employment Generation Project in the Seychelles, which on completion benefited more than 1,500 households.
To date, IFAD has financed three projects in Mauritius for a total investment of US$23.1 million, benefiting 20,330 households.