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Budget 2016–2017 Highlights: Transforming Agri-business into new economic cycle

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Budget 2016–2017 Highlights: Transforming Agri-business into new economic cycle

Budget 2016-2017 outlines the transition of the agri-business sector from the traditional mould to the new economic cycle putting agricultural land to modern and more productive use. In this context, an Agricultural Land Management System will be set up by the Mauritius Cane Industry Authority to bring unutilised abandoned cane lands of small planters under productive use.

Moreover, the grant facility for sheltered farming is being increased from Rs 250 000 to Rs 400 000 to encourage planters to undertake crop production under protected structures. In the same vein, a sum of Rs 20 million is being provided for the setting up of an exclusive Bio Farming/Organic zone with comprehensive modern infrastructural facilities at Britannia. A feasibility study will also be undertaken on the setting up of a Bio-Technology Institute.

With regard to the tea industry, a new tea nursery will be established at La Brasserie, providing seedlings free to growers and giving a subsidy on fertilizers. Moreover, the ex-Dubreuil tea factory which was closed in the late 1990s will be reopened to promote tea and other agroprocessing activities.

In order to boost dairy production, a sum Rs 10 million is being earmarked for the setting up of a heifer farm at Melrose by the Ministry of Agro-industry, and a cash incentive of Rs 5 000 will be provided to farmers for every new female calf (heifer) reared up to lactating phase. An additional provision of Rs 10 million is being made available to enable industrial milk processors to provide small cow keepers with essential support such as artificial insemination and other veterinary services, milk collection and animal husbandry.

On the other hand, an amount Rs 7 million has been earmarked to support bee-keepers through the creation of bee-keeping zones in different regions. To encourage exports, the subsidy on freight costs for horticultural products is being extended to flowers and exotic vegetables.

With regards to sugarcane, Government is renewing all the schemes that are meant to support some 11 000 sugarcane planters. Thus, for the sugar crop year 2016, planters producing up to 60 tonnes of sugar will benefit from an additional revenue of Rs 1 820 per tonne of sugar and the 80 per cent advance provided to sugar cane planters will be maintained through arrangements with the Mauritius Sugar Syndicate.

An amount of Rs 25 million is being allocated for acquisition of sophisticated equipment for the testing of fruits and vegetables by the Food-Tech Lab of the Ministry of Agro Industry and Food Security. Besides, Rs 30 million are being earmarked for setting up a new unit for mass rearing and sterilisation of fruit flies and Rs 16 million to litchi and banana growers for the purchase of protective nets and bags.

The Budget also provides that fifty per cent of the outstanding balances on loans, together with interest due, which were contracted by pig breeders, under the Pig Sector Re-structuring Programme, will be waived, if they pay back the remaining balance before 30th June 2017. In the same vein, all outstanding interests will be waived on start-up loans taken by planters, breeders and fishermen prior to 1st July 2012, under certain schemes, if they pay back all capital balance before 30th June 2017.

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