Prawn farming and extensive agriculture on Coetivy Island are set to restart in a bid to make Seychelles less dependent on food importation.
The chief executive of the Islands Development Company (IDC), Glenny Savy, told a press conference that a Belgian company that was working with the previous prawn farm on the island has agreed to provide the know-how.
Savy did not give an exact time frame for when production will start but said “we are on the final stages of working in the basins and very soon we will be putting our first prawns there.”
“Instead of freezing all the prawns, many hotels have asked us for fresh prawns, as they said this will make a difference to their menus. This is why some of our products will be sent over to Mahe as fresh prawns as we will not only offer the frozen variety,” he added.
Prawn farming in Seychelles since 1989
Prawn farming is not new to the 115-island archipelago in the western Indian Ocean. In 1989, in collaboration with the Seychelles Marketing Board (SMB), IDC developed a black tiger prawn farm on Coetivy Island, with broodstocks imported from Madagascar and Mozambique. The farm, however, was deemed not profitable and ceased its operations in 2009.
Coetivy was chosen as it has suitable characterstics in place. (Aubrey Lesperance) Photo License: All Rights Reserved
In a previous interview, the principal aquaculture officer at the Seychelles Fishing Authority, Aubrey Lesperance, told SNA that Coëtivy Island was found to be the most suitable site in Seychelles for commercial prawn farming because it already has a lot of the suitable characteristics in place.
“Such as flat land and high-quality seawater, electricity supply, accommodation, and basic infrastructure still available. It also provides the potential for production and supply to the local market to reduce the current imports of prawns. Prawn farming was and can still be done on Coëtivy provided the right management and skills are in place as well,” he said.
Coetivy is a coral island 290km south of the main island of Mahe. The island was traditionally used for agriculture and up to 2006 it had the nation’s only aquaculture plant for prawn farming. After that, it was used as a prison facility.
FAO identified limited land as greatest challenge in islands’ food production
In a visit to Seychelles two years ago, an FAO representative, Patrice Talla Takoukam, said that limited access to land and technical support to farmers remain Seychelles’ greatest challenges in the agricultural sector.
“Seychelles being a small country has many challenges when it comes to agriculture. It is important for Seychelles to continuously allocate land to farmers so that they can continuously produce for the population, thus ensuring food security,” he said.
IDC has entered into a partnership with the local authorities so that farmers could use the land on Coetivy for agricultural production.
A group of farmers went on a tour of Coetivy in August 2021 to see the potential it has to produce crops and livestock for the Seychellois population
Savy said that currently there are some fruits and vegetables that are already in production on the island.
In addition to crop farming, Coetivy is also producing partly free-range eggs, which Savy said is difficult to produce on Mahe, simply because there is not enough space to do so.