New Partnerships for a New Seychelles: Ministry of Agriculture and Nature Seychelles plant a new seed

 Shah (L) leading the delegation from the Ministry in a tour of The Sanctuary at Roche Caiman - a park for people and wildlife

On 14th August 2015 the Seychelles’ Minister for Fisheries and Agriculture, Mr. Wallace Cosgrow paid a visit to Nature Seychelles’ headquarters, at the Centre of Environment and Education in Roche Caiman to discuss partnerships in fisheries and agriculture. In the field of agriculture the need had been expressed to revitalise of the existing Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Nature Seychelles and the Seychelles Agricultural Agency (SAA).

Mr Cosgrow who was accompanied to the meeting by Principal Secretary, Mr. Micheal Nalletamby, SAA CEO Mr. Marc Naiken and Mr Vincent Lucas, Acting CEO for the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA), had a tour of The Sanctuary and Heritage (organic) Garden after a brief presentation by Nature Seychelles’ CEO Dr Nirmal Shah.

 Cosgrow (L) and Shah (R) during the tour of Nature Seychelles' Heritage (organic) Garden

In the presentation, Shah outlined Nature Seychelles’ work in Agriculture and the Blue Economy Specifically, the presentation covered projects such as the fish research project on Cousin Island which was implemented in partnership with the SFA. The research focused on studying spawning aggregration in marine protected areas. Shah also described Nature Seychelles’ highly acclaimed Reef Rescuers Project which aims to restore coral reefs in the face of climate change and which was recently featured on CNN. The Reef Rescuers Training Program, a first of its kind in the Seychelles, has also just come to a close.

The presentation also covered the organisation’s Green Health program under which the Heritage (organic) Garden, Green Yoga and Outdoor Exercise projects fall. It is also under the green health program that Nature Seychelles produced the award winning book ‘Grow and Eat Your Own Food Seychelles’ as well as the recently launched the Sustainable Organic Seychelles, an organic network, with two other founding members, Geffory’s farm, a local eco-friendly farm and Botanica a gourmet restaurant which sources locally produced food.

 At the birdhide, spotting resident birds

“At the moment Nature Seychelles is very active in the area of agriculture and we want to push forward with new concepts such as eco agriculture, climate smart agriculture and so forth,” Shah said in the meeting. “With our experience over the years in project management, we would like to continue to implement projects with the SAA as well as with SFA. With the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries under a new minister it is an opportune time to revitalize and perhaps expand the existing MoU.”

In the MoU signed by both parties on 16th October 2009, Nature Seychelles and SAA came into an agreement to plan and implement various activities under the aegis of the Food Security Strategy 2008-2011. The two organisations agreed to work together in the areas of agro-biodiversity, conservation, biodiversity friendly agriculture and any other national programs of mutual interest.

“I am very impressed with the amount of very innovative work Nature Seychelles has been doing over the years. With the increased interest in Seychelles in organic and eco-friendly food products, I believe this is an area that we can collaborate. The public is currently very conscious about health and safely as related to food and more and more people want to venture into this kind of natural farming,” Mr Cosgrow said. “We can use the facilities and experience that the ministry has in order to identify new and specific areas to work in partnership with Nature Seychelles which has wide expertise in environmental matters.”

 SFA's Vincent Lucas (R) hopes SFA and Nature Seychelles can have a broader partnership

It was agreed that a follow-up meeting would be held as soon as possible to put in place a new context for Nature Seychelles and the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries to continue to work in partnership including organic farming, training and project management.

“With Nature Seychelles’ experience in project management, we can build on this ability,” Mr Nalletemby said. “We have come to the realization that right now the Agency which is the implementation arm of the Ministry of Agriculture has inadequate capacity, so in wording of the new MoU we should integrate an element of project management.”

Mr. Vincent Lucas of the SFA also expressed the wish for a more general MoU with Nature Seychelles beyond the one which exists at present which covers a single project.

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