With the aim of contributing to the country’s food security, Seychelles this week ventured into large-scale agroforestry, planting a diverse variety of fruit trees on several hectares of state land at Montagne Posee.
This is part of activities to commemorate the Seychelles Food Week, a national event which coincides with the World Food Day on October 16 celebrated this year under the theme ‘Grow, nourish, sustain. Together. Our actions are our future.’
The Minister of Agriculture, Charles Bastienne, said on Tuesday that a similar project was carried out on Praslin, the second-most populated island, and at Val D’en D’or, but not on a big scale, to ensure that there is food security in the island nation.
“The Montagne Posee project is an ambitious one which will benefit the whole country. The land was covered in invasive plant species and the project which was conceived before the COVID-19 pandemic is based on the idea of valorising the land. It is but the start. We always talk about agroforestry and this particular project is agroforestry on a large scale,” said Bastienne.
He outlined that having such a large garden of fruits will also ensure that these trees are protected and that also help with propagation as the fruit trees are in high demand by the public.
The fruit orchard is expected to cover between 10 to 15 hectares of land. Already breadfruit, mango, avocado, custard apple, soursop, and sapote among others have been planted, all without chemical fertilisers. Prior to the project started, the area was covered in different invasive, indigenous, and endemic plant species.
The area for the orchard was cleared last weekend by staff from the Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture, Seychelles Agricultural Agency and the National Biosecurity Agency. Photo License: CC-BY
“We are planting these fruit trees in such a way so that they co-habit with the endemic plants that are here. All that is being done under the guidance of the Ministry of Environment, as they are the ones telling us what needs to be cut and what needs to be kept. As much as possible, we are not touching this natural habitat,” said Bastienne.
The Seychelles Agricultural Agency (SAA) that has the mandate to maintain these trees, will ensure they do not grow extremely tall which will make harvesting a challenge. In the future, trails are expected to be built so that people can walk through the fruit garden.
The agricultural minister said that the first trees are expected to start bearing fruits in the next three to five years, however, no decision has been taken yet on if the fruits will be sold.
Bastienne also took the opportunity to call upon the public, not-for-profit and private organisations interested in helping the government clear and prepare the land for planting to do so, as the area is really big.