Creation of a national platform for organic farming in Mauritius for capacity building and certification.

August 7, 2017

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Mauritius

Creation of a national platform for organic farming in Mauritius for capacity building and certification.

About the Implementing organization

Name: Fondation Ressources et Nature

Country: Mauritius

Year of establishment: 2008

Type of organization: Forests / Oceans

Description

In 2008, organic practice and certification was initially met with much skepticism among government agencies and agribusinesses. There was also a significant lack of expertise in organic agriculture adapted to the local climate and agricultural landscape. FORENA contacted Eco-Cert who sent a representative from Malaysia to assess potential for development and carry out a workshop with local government, private sector and civil society representatives. A partnership was built with Eco-Cert to allow FORENA to act as a platform for numerous non-governmental organizations wishing to engage in organic agriculture for their social and economic inclusion goals. To allow this to develop, a strategic partnership between FORENA and the GEF SGP – UNDP enabled organizations to receive funding for developing their farms or agricultural plots while FORENA came on board for technical support accompanying each project with separate funding from the private sector. Based on the successes of the first three participating organizations (Union Park’s Women’s Association, Maison Familiale Rurale du Nord, APEIM), more organizations came on board as well as private individuals, small planters and entrepreneurs. Technical support was provided at least once a month at the beginning of each project, providing expertise on organic agricultural practice, certification documentation and requirements, with follow-up over the duration of each project and through to certification.

Nature Element

Forests / Wildlife

Type of Action

Protection / Restoration / Sustainable use / Access and benefit sharing / Pollution prevention, clean up / Awareness and education

Sustainable Development Element

Jobs and livelihoods / Food security / Water security / Health / Climate action

Related Sustainable Development Goal(s)

      

Environmental Impacts

The environmental impacts are the transition of 5.5 Ha from conventional monocrop agriculture to organic diversified agro-ecological sites, the cultivation of heirloom and local rustic varieties of vegetables and herbs, and the elimination of chemical pesticide and fertilizer use at these sites. The latter decreased the potential impact on human health but also contributes to a reduction of the flow of these chemicals to the lagoon, known for creating algal overgrowth harmful to marine life. The project has promoted sustainable natural resource management by engaging with at least 16 primary project leaders/social workers at each site, who in turn have trained at least 200 project participants. The initiative with Eco-Cert certification being internationally recognized remains the precursor to the development of a local label and standard. The platform has recently started to attract larger agribusinesses, providing indication of the tipping point for scaling up at a national level.

Sustainable Development Impacts

Jobs and livelihoods: All organizations with a social justice and social service mission have embarked on this project to help support economic empowerment of vulnerable groups. Organic agriculture is a niche market in Mauritius and currently the demand exceeds supply. With adequate practice, organic agriculture provides an alternative means of revenue for vulnerable groups without significant investments in skills training.
Food Security: The initiative has also provided the basis for subsistence agriculture as many started practicing gardening at home following the initiative. The project also contributes to national food security by building the capacity of local actors in organic agriculture, therefore supporting resiliency to external economic shocks and climate change.
Water security: Sustainably managed agriculture means better management of water resources, as crops become more resistant to drought and extreme weather events through organic practice.

Scalability

The project has shown its scalability through the growing number of participants in the project. FORENA has maintained partnerships and communications with government institutions to ensure a system of checks and balances when implementing new local organic norms and ensuring that the bar is not lowered for the purpose of scalability. The scalability is also made evident through solution #2 which is the establishment of a training centre and demonstration site.

Replicability

The solution has proven that it is replicable in all parts of the country, as project sites are located throughout the island. The platform still offers an attractive way for small businesses to switch from conventional to organic or to start organic anew due to the discounted price from Eco-Cert and the accessibility to expertise.

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