Fisheries and Agriculture Minister Pamela Charlette visited various activities related to her ministry at Anse Boileau and Anse à la Mouche yesterday.

This forms part of a series of visits Minister Charlette has been undertaking since last year and yesterday’s visit was her first for this year.

At Anse Boileau, the minister and her delegation were able to tour the proposed land location for the district’s new fish market and adjacent facilities. The proposed location is near the site where the old fish market previously was.

Juan Marimba, the senior project officer at the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA), stated that the fish market project is currently in its consultative phase.

“Before we undertake any work on the market we will have to organise consultative meetings with the community especially with the fishermen. The discussion will revolve around storage facilities, processing areas and so forth,” Mr Marimba highlighted.

He further stated that the actual construction work on the fish market is expected to start next year.

The Anse à la Mouche ice plant was the second meeting point of the visit, where Minister Charlette was given a run-down of the plant which was built in 1995 by the government of Japan. It is considered as one of the oldest ice plants in the country.

In this regard, Mr Marimba explained that the plant is in dire need of renovation work since its structure was affected by the tsunami which hit the country in 2004.

“We are also planning to upgrade the ice plant machine since the country has imposed a ban on the R22 gas. Hence we will have to replace the R22 gas in the machine with an alternative gas,” he elaborated.

A group of Japanese experts who installed the original machinery will be coming into the country to analyse the state of the machine and the feasibility of the upgrade.

Aside from these fisheries facilities, Minister Charlette made a round of several farms in Anse à la Mouche to learn more about the farmers’ challenges and achievements.

Suresh Vidot, a primarily livestock farmer who has been in the business for five years, told the minister that there is a lot more that needs to be done in order to create a thriving  local agricultural sector.

“One of our main challenges is marketing,” he told the Seychelles NATION.

“Moreover small farmers are getting left behind either because of large local competitors who are not controlled and saturate the market with their products, or imported products that also do the same.”

Mr Vidot added that the price for animal feed is much too high for certain farmers and that the authorities need to look into the standard and the running of the privatised abattoir.

The list of grievances from farmers continued to increase in length as the delegation stopped over at the farm of Sandville Desaubin, a crop farmer.

He also affirmed that many of his plant products are not selling due to the large quantities of imported products.

“Additionally we are facing issues such as the lack of electricity here on the farm [which is located on top of a hill] and the shortage of water especially during droughts. The latter can easily be solved by constructing a borehole,” Mr Desaubin stated.

But his biggest concern was most farmers’ inability to access the Agriculture Development Fund (ADF) line of credit at the Development Bank of Seychelles (DBS).

Linetta Estico, the deputy chief executive of the Seychelles Agricultural Agency (SAA) acknowledged that the availability of the ADF line of credit, which is a revolving fund provided by the agency, is also one of their major concerns.

“We are negotiating with the bank to ensure that the ADF is more accessible to our farmers,” she stated.

“In regards to marketing, we are also in discussion to develop a memorandum of understanding with the Seychelles Trading Corporation (STC) to negotiate how STC can help the farmers sell their products.”

Minister Charlette is expected to continue with her series of visits next Friday.

The accompanying photographs show Minister Charlette on her visits yesterday.

Source: on 10 February 2018