Focus on Agriculture in the National Budget 2012

Today, 4th November 2011, the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Hon. Xavier Luc Duval presented the National Budget for the year 2012. Highlights of the Budget can be read HERE.

The following have been presented with respect to Agriculture in the National Budget 2012:

“Consolidating Agriculture
111. Mr Speaker, Sir, business facilitation is an important leg of our
efforts to buttress the supply side of our economy. But each industry also
has its own specificities and concerns.
112. In the agriculture sector, the challenges are getting tougher every
day. For two consecutive years, output in the sugar sector has contracted.
Sugar cane planters need every support we can give. This year the total
budget for the Ministry of Agro-Industry and Food Security will surge to 2.6 billion rupees, an increase of 700 million rupees compared to what was spent last year.
113. Thus the Sugar Insurance Fund Board (SIFB) will grant a 70
percent discount on premiums due for 2011. This should reduce cost by
around 3,000 rupees per arpent.
114. As from next year, the SIFB will offer new policies that should bring
further drastic cuts in the premiums.
115. The use of better equipment and machinery will enhance the quality
of life and productivity of field workers, as well as add to our nation’s food
security. I am therefore pleased to announce a major incentive to the sector.
116. Henceforth Mr Speaker, Sir, all small planters and all small breeders
will obtain full VAT refund on agricultural machinery, equipment and tools
that they purchase in 2012. This will benefit some 23,000 sugar cane
planters, some 6,000 horticultural producers and some 5,000 animal
breeders, including cattle and pig breeders.
117. We are also maintaining the payment of an 80 percent advance to
sugar planters as soon as their crops are sent to the mill.
118. We are committing 310 million rupees for continuing the programme
of re-grouping small planters, de-rocking their lands and providing
irrigation wherever needed.
Ushering in a New Era of Agri-Technology and Bio Fuel
119. Mr Speaker, Sir, Government is ushering in a new era of agritechnology
and bio fuel. We are putting in place a framework to enable
production of sugar cane ethanol for blending with gasoline. This will add
value to our cane industry while at the same time bringing environmental
benefits and increasing self-sufficiency in energy.
120. As provided for in the historic deal made by the Prime Minister, the
stakeholders of the sugar industry will hold 35 percent of the equity of the
ethanol company. Government will facilitate the acquisition of the shares
through the Cane Democratisation Fund.

Non-Sugar Agriculture: at the Service of Consumers
121. Mr Speaker, Sir, as regards non-sugar agriculture it holds the key to
food security and to lower prices for consumers.
122. The Agricultural Marketing Board will finance seed purchases so
that there can be greater supply of potatoes, onions and garlic to consumers.
123. I am also committing resources to improve market intelligence to
farmers. This will be crucial to avoid under-production which drives up
prices for consumers and over-production which depresses farmers’ income
and threatens future output.
124. I am increasing the budget for food security by about 50 percent to
150 million rupees. Of this amount, 22 million rupees will be direct
allocations to Rodrigues.
Non-Sugar Agriculture: Stimulating the Export Drive
125. Mr Speaker, Sir, non-sugar agriculture must also become more export-oriented.
It not only expands our GDP but provides us with the necessary
economies of scale to lower prices for our consumers.
126. But freight costs are holding back exports.
127. A new freight rebate scheme will therefore be introduced that will
involve a 25 percent cost-subsidy element to be shared equally between
producers and exporters.
128. At the same time, Mauritius must comply with the WTO trade
discipline. I am therefore allocating the necessary resources to train and
empower producers so they can export competitively, without subsidy, after
the WTO derogation lapses in 2015.
129. We are also extending the Fair Trade certification facilities to all
sectors of the economy, including producers of flowers, vegetables, fruits
and honey. The facilities will be for cooperatives and other federations.”

My overall comment is that it is a good thing that investment in agriculture has increased, different incentives and facilities will be given to planters and breeders. Other positive points are the fact that the issue youth unemployment has been considered through initiatives like the practical pre-job training or support to SMEs and entrepreneurs. Also, a budget of Rs 1.5 billion has been allocated for poverty reduction and social integration. Youths have also been encouraged to venture in the tourism sector as it offers employment opportunities. 

However,  despite all these innovations and initiatives, the truth remains that youth are not being encouraged to contribute in the agriculture value chain and no initiatives have been taken to make this sector more attractive to youth. In addition, there has been no mention of ICTs in agriculture or its importance to improve agriculture.

I am aware that I am probably one of the very few Mauritian youths who is still optimistic about this sector and doing my best to make agriculture attractive. But I believe that the impact will be long-term and hence should not give up! 🙂

The National Budget speech can be downloaded HERE or watched HERE.

About Nawsheen Hosenally

Nawsheen Hosenally, a national of the Republic of Mauritius, has over 6 years of experience in the agricultural sector, specifically focusing on the engagement of youth in agriculture through the use of ICTs. Currently, Nawsheen is the co-Founder of Agribusiness TV, a web TV that features success stories of young agricultural entrepreneurs in Africa. Nawsheen holds a Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Extension from the University of Mauritius, and a Master’s degree in Management and Information Systems from the University of Manchester.

One thought on “Focus on Agriculture in the National Budget 2012

  1. Efforts pay off.
    I also believe that you are the only blogger in a specific niche : Environment 🙂

    Overall, i found the budget much interesting despite there was nothing about ICT in general.

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