Climate change is likely to result in the loss of a key productive asset, the land. Already facing relatively high population growth, poor land use, and inadequate institutional capacity, the islands of the IOC will also have to face an increase in terms of migration, food insecurity and conflicts related to waterand fertile land uses. In addition, irreversible loss of significant amount of carbon sequestered in soils and difficulty to defend and restore soils and theaffected vegetation will surely amplify the loss of productivity and income of farmers,especially the poorest and vulnerable ones.
The development of agriculture that is much more oriented towards the "protection and regeneration" of the natural environment is a priority in the region. That is the reason why the IOC has launched in December 2010, for a period of 30 months, a regional initiative aiming at adaptation of smallholder agriculture to climate change in the islands of the Indian Ocean through the dissemination of agroecology (IRACC). This initiative is funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) amounting to 750 000 USD dollars.
Agroecology,as a sustainable solution
Agroecology,combining different agricultural practices referring to an improved management of soil and water, simple and efficient cropping systems, and techniques of fertility management that is oriented to the use of organic fertilizers, integrated fight against diseases and pests ..., helps to improve both fertility and productivity in a sustainable manner.
This approach not only helps to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, but it also contributes in mastering soil erosion, conserving water use and improving infiltration.According to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier deSchutter, agroecology can double food production in entire regions in 10 years,while reducing rural poverty and providing solutions to climate change.
The IRACC project promotes agroecology, through renewed information networks (like the web portal Biodiversity & Agriculture Indian Ocean), exchange visits, and regional training courses. Platforms and working groups were formed to coordinate activities in each country, collect and share good agricultural practices and experiencedcrop management, but also provide advocacy for integrating agroecology intonational policies and priorities of development partners. In addition, hubs of competences based on national expertise are also created in different countries, as well as a future regional database of agroecological routing techniques.
Participation of the Reunion Island
The Reunion Island is participating in the IRACC via the project "Enlargement and Sustainability of the Network of the Plant Protection Network", e-PRPV. The project is funded by the Operational Program for Territorial Cooperation (European Regional Development Fund, French Government, Regional Council of Reunion, General Council of Reunion, CIRAD).
It deals with different agroecological actions in crop protection, including the online web portal Biodiversity & Agriculture Indian Ocean, associated with a directory of agricultural actors in the Indian Ocean region.
e-PRPV is a partnership project involving the French State, CIRAD, University of Reunion, MNHN, Armeflhor, FDGDON, Farre Reunion, AROP-FL.
The IRACC project actions
The IRACC aims to disseminate agroecological techniques in the Indian Ocean in order to help small-scale agriculture to adapt to climate change, while improving incomeand living conditions of producers.
The IRACC project has four components:
- Information and awareness
- Knowledge sharing
- Improving the operational capacitiesof stakeholders
- Support small holders to adapt to climate change.
The regional coordination team is based at the IOC office in Mauritius. The head is the regional coordinator: Andriantahina Rakotondralambo. His team consists of an assistant, Isabelle Lebreton, and a communication assistant / interpreter, Hanta Razafindrazaka.
The IRACC project supports in cooperation with its partners:
- Exchange visits for farmers andtechnicians between the islands, and training of technicians,
- Exchange of technical innovations,
- The establishment of a database ontechnical references and best practices, national hubs of competences, andnational organizations that develop agro-ecology,
- The establishment of permanent referencetables,
- Strengthening of hubs of competences,
- Feeding and updating of databases onthe network website.
Its 2012 work plan was approved during the Steering Committee meeting that held in Rodrigues on 8-9 December 2011.
A network of partners for the dissemination of agro-ecology
Agroecology-The Regional Initiative on Climate Change (IRACC) is implemented by the IOC through a network of operators, which is presently composed by:
- The e-PRPV Project
- Agricultural projects financed by IFAD, the SGP / GEF Mauritius and other donors
- National agricultural extensionservices
- Research centers, including CIRAD, FOFIFA (Madagascar), the AREU (Mauritius) and INRAPE(Comoros)
- NGOs, including FORENA (Mauritius),ANAE and GSDM (Madagascar)
- Associations of producers, such asthe Beans Producers of Rodrigues, the AROP-FL (Meeting)
- Agricultural training center, suchas TAFA (Madagascar), FARRE and FDGDON (Reunion)
- Private sector, such as APEXHOM(Mauritius).
Currently,the list of network members is long as the actors of agricultural development are all integrated into platforms and working groups that are operate in each island. In fact, these structures are the real drivers of agricultural development that have led to local initiatives and supports to the community ofthe agricultural sector.