AGRO-INDUSTRIE : SAUVEGARDER LES SEMENCES POUR LA SÉCURITÉ ALIMENTAIRE
Lors d’un atelier de travail le lundi 20 février à Pointe-aux-Piments, le ministre de l’Agro-industrie et de la Sécurité alimentaire, Mahen Seeruttun, a rappelé que les semences représentent des intrants des plus importants dans l’agriculture moderne. Les semences aident à augmenter la productivité, la profitabilité et la durabilité de la production agricole. « Un système fort tissant des liens avec toutes les parties concernées est donc essentiel pour avoir des semences de qualité et de bonnes variétés de plantes, qui sont cruciales pour la sécurité alimentaire mondiale », a-t-il dit. Le ministre Seeruttun a ensuite évoqué le travail entrepris par la station agricole de Barkly, qui s’est embarquée dans un programme appelé « Quality Declared Seeds », tel qu’établi par la FAO. Ce programme offre une alternative moins exigeante aux pays disposant des ressources limitées, mais qui garantissent quand même un niveau satisfaisant de qualité des semences.
Ci-joint le discours intégral du ministre Seeruttun lors de cet atelier de travail :
“I am very pleased and honoured to address you this morning on the occasion of the opening of the workshop to validate draft regulations to be made under the Seeds Act 2013. I would like, at the very outset, to extend my warmest welcome to Dr Ibrahima Bamba, the new Country Programme Manager of IFAD for Mauritius.
As you are aware, the assistance of IFAD has been obtained to develop our seeds sector through a Reimbursable Technical Agreement.
I have been made to understand that the objectives of the first part of the project have been fulfilled and today’s workshop on the validation of regulations under the Seeds Act, is one of the prominent outcome.
Seeds are the basic and most vital input for successful crop production. In modern agriculture, high quality seeds and planting materials of improved varieties play a pivotal role in increasing productivity, profitability and sustainability of crop production programmes.
A strong seeds system with linkages between all stakeholders is therefore essential for delivering quality seeds and improved crop varieties which in turn are crucial for global food security.
In order to guarantee access to the quantity and quality of seeds needed, a system must be put in place to safeguard plant genetic resource management, national varietal development programs and linkages with regional and international research facilities.
National seeds services must also be strengthened and seeds rules and regulations harmonized at the sub-regional and regional levels to facilitate the trade in seeds. Policies should also be developed and strengthened through the involvement of relevant stakeholders, both public and private, to ensure the development of entrepreneurial capacity in the seed industry enterprises.
Mauritius has achieved remarkable economic success over the years and efforts are being made to increase agricultural production to ensure food safety and food security.
However, it is very sad to admit that our seeds sector has not evolved much, during the last 30 years.We have timidly embarked on a few projects to improve our seeds quality but not much has been achieved.
The Barkley Experimental Station, in collaboration with FAREI, has embarked on the Quality Declared Seeds (QDS) scheme as established by FAO. The QDS scheme provides an alternative for seeds quality assurance, particularly designed for countries with limited resources, which is less demanding than full seeds quality control and certification systems but yet guarantees a satisfactory level of seed quality.
FAREI is as at date the only institution which is involved in research for true botanical seeds. The production of vegetable seeds and other planting materials is mainly centred on traditional varieties and only a few varieties have been introduced and developed so far. It is only recently in 2013 that the Seeds Act has been promulgated.
I hope that you will concur with me that we can no longer accept to keep dwelling in a system that has barely changed during the past three decades, inadequately structured and not well regulated.
The seeds industry has, over the years, undergone dynamic changes worldwide and these changes have come with challenges that require institutional reforms in the local seeds industry. Regional integration and international trade, together with scientific advances in the area of biotechnology have posed additional challenges that require the local industry to quickly adapt to the changing environment in order to remain competitive both locally and regionally.
It is clear that with such daunting challenges, doing more of the same or satisfying ourselves with the business as usual mode is no more a credible option. We need to venture into unchartered territories and find new avenues for this sector.
My Ministry is committed to redress this present situation and to bring a new impetus to this sector which has a brilliant future and which can position Mauritius as a key player for the region.
I am convinced the whole system has to be reviewed and a piece meal approach will not be beneficial in the long run. We need to have a sector which is inspired by quality and governed by well formulated rules and regulations.
To this purpose, I have signed on 26 May 2016 a Reimbursable Technical Assistance Agreement with IFAD which will help Mauritius to set up a seeds sector which is efficient, well-structured and responsive to the ever-changing challenges of this industry.
Furthermore, I am ensuring that the National Plant Variety and Seeds Office be set up at the earliest. This office will regulate the seeds industry mainly the cultivation, production, trade, exportation and importation of seeds of any variety of any kind of plant.
It will also be responsible for the registration of seeds varieties, seeds testing, seeds inspection and seeds certification. Moreover, to strengthen the seeds sector through the introduction and development of new plant varieties, my Ministry is currently working on the legal aspect regarding the protection of plant breeder’s rights.
The forthcoming Intellectual Property legislation under the aegis of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, will provide for such protection.
I have been made to understand that the workshop of today will validate the regulations under the Seeds Act 2013. These new regulations will allow important sections of the Seeds Act to be proclaimed shortly. Consequently, the seeds legislation and regulations will create an enabling environment for the development of the seed sector. It will further put an end to generalized confusion and mistrust around crop variety names.
In addition, it will create a more transparent seeds market that would ensure quality and the safeguard of the interests of farmers against poor quality seeds. The seeds legislation and regulations will also create a level playing field among seeds dealers and producers. This aims at protecting bona fide seeds dealers and producers from unfair competition by scrupulous ones.
Last but not least, a sound regulatory framework, including certification, seeds testing and good phytosanitary controls, would be key supports to any such regional activities
I understand, that the Seeds Act 2013, has been harmonized with the SADC Seeds Regulatory System. Apart from promoting investment in the seeds sector and increasing the number of varieties and availability of high quality seeds to growers, Mauritius will also benefit by participating in the SADC Harmonised Seeds Regulatory System.
The harmonization of seeds laws and legislations is presently one of the major FAO actions related to seeds. Harmonizing seeds laws in the sub-regions of Africa and in Central Asia to facilitate cross-border movement of seeds will provide a broader market for seeds enterprises and will be vital for the development of the seeds sector. By facilitating cross-border seeds trade, the harmonization of seeds regulations also allows countries with seeds deficit to more easily find seeds in neighbouring countries, and therefore contributes to seeds security.
I am convinced that the establishment of the regulatory, institutional and technical framework would give a new impetus to the seeds sector. The current legislation would be instrumental for the development of a seeds industry in Mauritius and eventually for the region.
The workshop today constitutes a crucial step for the seeds sector as it will enable the finalisation of the remaining seeds regulations and the eventual proclamation of the Seeds Act. I, therefore, rely on the collaboration and active participation of one and all to make this workshop a success.
I wish all of you fruitful deliberation. I now have the pleasure to declare the workshop open.”