This project, launched in 2010 by the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC), with funding from IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development), aims to promote ecological farming techniques in the islands of the IOC (Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius,Reunion, Seychelles) and Zanzibar (Pemba and Ugunja islands). These "agroecological" techniques preserve the environment and biodiversity, while maximizing returns to improve incomes and living conditions.
Environmentally friendly farming practices
"Together, the islands of the Indian Ocean are committed to promoting the implementation of agroecological approaches and techniques that, by combining different agricultural practices, can improve soil fertility and soil productivity while decreasing the use of chemicals (fertilizers, pesticides, etc.), which will be gradually replaced by natural products", said the coordinator of the IRACC, Tahina Rakotondralambo.
Opening the workshop, the general secretary of the Malagasy Ministry of Agriculture,Suzelin Ratohiarijaona Rakotoarisolo, supported this initiative which forms part of "a vision of sustainable development in is land states of the Indian Ocean".
Participants at the IRACC Workshop (Madagascar,2011)
"The development of agro-ecology is complex: it involves scientific research,popularization, training, information and awareness," said the IRACC regional coordinator.
The IRACC works closely with the Plant Protection Network, supported by partners in Reunion (ePRPV).
Through these projects, many areas are covered: plant protection, fertility management,water management and erosion control. The objective is to adopt greener practices in these areas to improve productivity and sustainability of agricultural systems, while reducing production of greenhouse gases and increasing the capacity of carbon sequestration in soil.
Communication, cooperation and enhanced trade between islands
All stake holders are committed to strengthening communication and cooperation between the islands.
The Bio& Agri web portal, which promotes agro-ecology and biodiversity, as well asits associated directory (e-Koal IT Agri) and other ePRPV projects were presented by the Reunion Island delegation: "the proposals have received wide acceptance and all countries have committed them selves to participate,"said Eric Jeuffrault of Reunion Island.
The participants stressed the importance of adopting an ecological approach to modern agriculture, encouraging local production, collaboration and solidarity between the islands.
The participants were taken on a tour of the Antananarivo region to witness some successful agroecological initiatives. Two farmers' associations were visited:
- The MamaBio Association (Malagasy Organic Market Gardens) specializes in organicvegetable production, composting (vermicompost and compost from plant debris)and an integrated approach to disease and pest control.
- The TATA Association (Tanora Andrin'ny tontolo Ambanivohitra - pillar of rural youth), specialized in the production of vermicompost and recovery of local seeds,which also uses an improved water management technique.
The representatives of the islands were able to return to their countries full of new ideas for developing agro-ecology.