The agricultural area harvested in Mauritius has decreased over the years. This is because the booming real estate sector is reducing the amount of land available for agriculture. There was a 3% decline in total harvested area between 2009 and 2010. This is not to mention the 6% drop in local food production. The contribution of agriculture to national GDP in 2001 was 6.9% but in recent times, it has been hovering at around only 4%. Unemployment has stagnated in the agricultural sector since 2008. This calls for concern, so Mauritius needs to find ways to increase food security in Mauritius . Here are some things the country needs to take a hard look at in order to be on its way to consistent national food security.
In recent years, the FAO has continually warned the whole world that world population is exploding without a correspondent increase in food productions. What this means is, at the rate the world is going, if there is no increase in world food production, there might not be enough food grown to feed the future population of the world. With the escalating population in Mauritius and the change in feeding patterns, the total need for food has increased dramatically. The authorities now need to devise means and create an enabling environment that will not only make sure that agricultural production increases exponentially, but also make sure that all surpluses are saved for a rainy day. A hungry man is an angry man. If the populace are not hungry, there will be no angry man inside Mauritius.
The Government has to take measures aimed at countering rising agricultural prices. Taste and preferences may be what is driving food choices around the world but in Mauritius the factor that is affecting consumers the most is prices. In 2007 alone the estimated total food requirement for the country was around 680,000 metric tonnes. Local production could only meet 23% of this estimate. The resultant effect of such a deficit is usually a hike in food prices. Since the tourism industry is vibrant, it is also taking its own toll on the Mauritian agricultural sector thereby creating even further deficits. All this means that the Government has to create programs that will renew interest towards farming and attract new players to the agricultural sector.
Food Security Fund
This is one strategy that some nations of the world have used which has helped to stabilize their food sectors considerably. Different schemes by the ministry of agriculture in the past have yielded very positive results. This might just be one that they can add to ensure all the positive results of the past do not go to waste.
The Government should make budding entrepreneurs realise that the agricultural sector contains innumerable opportunities. They should co-ordinate financial institutions to finance agricultural programs that are laid on a sound foundation. That way, they would have found how to increase food security in Mauritius. And all Mauritians will love them for that.