Environment & Agriculture: A month-by-month review |29 December 2023
Among the many environment and agricultural concerns tackled locally, the Ministry of Agriculture, Climate Change and Environment in 2023 also engaged in many international fora geared towards challenges faced by small island developing states.
Minister Flavien Joubert first represented Seychelles in the Environment Ministers’ Session of the ‘Voice of Global South Summit’ held virtually on January 12, 2023. Minister Joubert took part in the session with the theme ‘Balancing Growth with Environment Friendly Lifestyles (LiFE)’ through video message. In addition to India and Seychelles, environment ministers of 13 other countries participated in this session.
There were concerns following an outcry by members of the public of a possible impact on the environment and on the community with regard to the operation of the quarry at the Civil Construction Company Limited (CCCL), especially during heavy rainfall. The Ministry of Agriculture, Climate Change and Environment had affirmed the situation there is under control but there was a need for more sedimentation points to capture the sediments and prevent them from reaching the lower areas including in the lagoon harbouring the mangroves.
The ‘flood free Victoria’ high-level committee met for discussion on the works done to tackle flooding previously identified pre-December 2022 and to look at new issues that have come up following the December 2022 rainfall. The committee, chaired by President Wavel Ramkalawan, was set up in March 2022 to address flooding issues following flooding caused by heavy rains in that month in Victoria and Mont Fleuri.
To help push Seychelles towards an improved waste management infrastructure, the Seychelles Breweries Limited (SBL) donated recycle bins for PET, aluminium and glass bottles to the Ministry of Agriculture, Climate Change and Environment. According to SBL, the main objective of the project was to educate the citizens of Seychelles on the importance of waste segregation and to ease consumers’ convenience to dispose of recyclable materials.
Wetlands restoration was at the forefront of a half-day activity organised by the Ministry of Agriculture, Climate Change and Environment (MACCE) in collaboration with Constance Ephelia Resort Seychelles to commemorate World Wetlands Day.
There was also the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the Port Launay-Port Glaud Mangroves Management Plan between the MACCE, the Constance Ephelia Resort Seychelles, and the newly established NGO – the L-Foundation Seychelles – which is a testimony of the government-private partnership in the management of wetlands ecosystems.
The Terrestrial Restoration Action Society of Seychelles (TRASS) presented the achievements of its project dubbed ‘Community-based ecological coastal rehabilitation using an ecosystem approach’ at Pasquiere, Praslin. The first component of the project was to prevent the loss of wetlands by enhancing vegetation cover on degraded foothills upstream of the wetlands. Secondly, to remove invasive plant species encroaching the wetlands and replant with appropriate native species so as to reduce soil erosion from the land into the marine park. Thirdly to enhance the overall biodiversity and functioning of the ecosystems.
Following a two-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Seychelles Islands Foundation (SIF) resumed its annual give-back campaign with a donation to the Baie Sainte Anne Centre for the Exceptional Child, and painting and landscaping works at the Grand Anse Home for the Elderly. Funds and resources secured for the campaign were generated through admission fees and sales from the Vallée de Mai Unesco World Heritage site.
During its 4th board meeting the 8th Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA) board of trustees elected Seychellois Marie-May Jeremie as the President of the new board. Ms Jeremie currently serves as the chief executive of the Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT). She said she will serve the association diligently and strive to ensure that WIOMSA remains steadfast in the path forged by the remarkable leaders who have transformed the association over the past 30 years and left a legacy that will ripple through the western Indian Ocean region for years to come.
Seychelles received financing amounting to US $2.5 million from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to undertake a local project as part of a regional endeavour to manage hazardous chemicals and waste. The project – ‘Implementing Sustainable Low and non-chemical Development in Sids’ or the ‘Chemicals and Waste project’ – consists of four national sub-projects in four small island states including Comoros, Maldives, Mauritius and Seychelles and one regional subject totalling over US $12 million.
The St Anne Marine Park celebrated its golden jubilee on March 19, 2023. The park, which attracts a number of locals and visitors, was decreed a protected area on March 19, 1973, and is the oldest marine park in Seychelles and in the Western Indian Ocean region. To mark the momentous occasion, the Seychelles Parks and Gardens Authority (SPGA) in collaboration with Club Med Seychelles and the National Sports Council (NSC) organised a guided kayak tour experience for staff, school children and invited guests, to enjoy the protected area’s marine life and ecosystem.
The SPGA also received $2887.67 from the Kingdom of Thailand to embellish the Thai Garden in the National Botanical Garden at Mont Fleuri. The money was handed over by the ambassador of Thailand to Seychelles, Sasirit Tangulrat, to the principal secretary for Climate Change and Energy, within the Ministry of Agriculture, Climate Change and Environment, Tony Imaduwa, in a short ceremony held at the garden.
A tornado known as ‘laponp’ in creole, was observed at the Freedom Square field on April 4, 2023 and in some other places on Mahé and Praslin as well. A whirling column of air and water mist was observed across the field, much to the delight and surprise of passersby.
More than 700 signatures – 431 on-line and 341 in person – were garnered in a petition to stop the mass killing of stray animals through the use of poison. The petition was put forward by a group of concerned citizens in the wake of the recent use of poison to address the issue of stray dogs in Seychelles. The petition was addressed to the government of Seychelles, the Speaker of the National Assembly, all members of the Assembly and all concerned parties. It was followed by a pacific march in the streets of Victoria by some 200 animal lovers.
The lucky winners of the Save Our Seas Foundation competition left for a one-week D’Arros experience camp during the school holidays. The 15 students from schools around the country were chosen out of over 70 who had created a realistic media campaign either through writing, drawing, video or audio, about four critically endangered species found in Seychelles; namely hawksbill turtle (Kare), sheath-tailed bat (Sousouri Bannann), Seychelles white eye (Zwazo Linet) and bottlenose wedgefish (Vyolon). The species are found on the red list of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
To commemorate Earth Day, Parley Seychelles gathered some 30 children, teens and adults from various schools of Mahé for a beach clean-up activity on the North East Point beach. Some 115kg of garbage consisting of plastic and non-plastic litter were collected during the activity which started at 9.45am and ended around 11am.
Over 475kg of salted dolphin meat seized on March 28 were disposed of in the Seychelles Hospital’s incinerator as per court order given by Chief Justice Rony Govinden under the ‘Prohibition against killing or taking any marine mammals alive or dead in Seychelles waters contrary to section 32 (4) of the Fisheries Act, 2014 (act 20 of 21). The meat was found on board a local fishing vessel intercepted by the Seychelles Coast Guard, north east of Denis Island.
A mangrove tree planting activity was undertaken at Ile du Port by the Public Utilities Corporation (PUC) in collaboration with the Climate Adaptation Management Section within the Ministry of Agriculture, Climate Change and Environment (CAMS-MACCE). Altogether, around 200 mangrove plants which had been carefully uprooted from one of PUC’s project sites at Le Rocher were relocated along the lagoon in close proximity to the Independent School.
Thirteen-year-old American, Ismachiah Oduwole, met President Wavel Ramkalawan and the cabinet of ministers on Wednesday morning at State House as part of his ongoing efforts to raise awareness about climate change and encourage the world to take concrete actions to save the planet. His visit to Seychelles was to get the head of state to sign what he called a ‘climate ball’, and write what action the country was taking towards climate change. This was in line with his quest, which began since the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup where his objective was to get as many people from different countries, clad in their country’s respective jersey, to sign the climate ball and have them pledge to do more towards climate change, when they got back to their respective homes.
After five years of work to raise the level of the La Gogue dam to increase its holding capacity, the infrastructure was inaugurated by President Wavel Ramkalawan. Work to raise the level of the dam by six metres and increase its capacity by 60 percent started in 2018. The total cost of the project amounted to R399 million. It has been funded through a 20 million USD dollar loan from the African Development Bank and contribution from the government of Seychelles and PUC.
SPGA issued a shark alert as precautionary measure following the sighting of a guitar shark (reken vyolon) in the Port Launay Marine Park. This had caused some panic. The authority which confirmed the presence of those sharks said given it was the sharks’ breeding season, it was normal to see them close to shore to deliver especially at night or in the early hours.
Under the framework of the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) Intra-ACP Climate Services and related Applications Programme (ClimSA), the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) in collaboration with the government of Seychelles, the African Union Commission (AUC), the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and the European Commission convened at the 2023 ClimSA forum in Seychelles. The event was an amalgamation of the 3rd OACPS and 1st African ClimSAFora, creating a comprehensive and dynamic platform for participants to share best practices and explore possible solutions for climate action. The three-day meeting at the Kempinski Hotel in Baie Lazare was the first ClimSA Forum to be held in hybrid in Africa.
Residents and businesses in the southern region of Mahé had access to a more robust, reliable, and efficient electricity network, with the inauguration of the Public Utilities Corporation (PUC) 33kV network South Mahé project. President Wavel Ramkalawan was joined by the chief executive of the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) Sultan Abdulrahman Al-Marshad, and representative of the Arab Bank of Economic Development in Africa (BADEA), EbeBabah, the project’s main financiers, to unveil the commemorative plaque. At a cost of US $30.9 million PUC constructed eight modern substations, equipped with state of-the-art technologies. These substations are interconnected by a network of approximately 300 kilometres of 33kV cable and 40 kilometres of 11kV cable extending underground from the Roche Caiman Power Station to Turtle Bay and branching out to Anse Boileau through multiple routes.
Cabinet approved the proposal to address the solid waste management through a soft loan worth $5 million from the World Bank. When outlining the raison d’être of the project, Vice-President Ahmed Afif said the first component is to improve the solid waste management system and the second component is to provide the enabling environment to promote waste reduction, through engagement with the private sector and the community.
An international research symposium was held at the Savoy Seychelles Resort and Spa in Beau Vallon to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Vallée de Mai's inscription on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) World Heritage list on December 1983. The symposium under the theme ‘Preserving our past and inspiring our future’ was to share Vallée de Mai's milestones and achievements over the past 40 years and the way forward.
A large delegation of around 80 personnel comprising officials from government and public enterprises, non-government organisations (NGOs) and the private sector, participated in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties (COP) in Dubai from November 30 to December 12, 2023. The delegation led by President Wavel Ramkalawan, participated in various activities in and around the conference.
With regard to agricultural activities in the country, in January a two-day citizen engagement workshop entitled ‘Net-Zero Food System and Building Resilience through Climate Smart Technology’, targeting the agriculture industry, got under way at the University of Seychelles cafeteria, Anse Royale. Thirty (30) citizens from the farming community attended the launch in the presence of main workshop facilitator Guy Morel, the general manager of the division of science technology and innovation Xavier Estico, and Rachel Brisley and M Niamh Neale, two British delegates from Ipsos, a consulting firm with global reach, headquartered in Paris, France.
Climate-smart agriculture was the main topic of discussion at a one-day workshop organised by the SIDS Youth AIMS Hub (SYAH) Seychelles The aim was to create a new fascination about this form of agriculture among young Seychellois students, farmers, government agencies and other stakeholders, thus paving the way for sustainable agricultural practices. The workshop at the STC conference room was held under the theme ‘Sustainable Agriculture is the future’ and targeted young farmers and aspiring ones between the ages of 15-35 years.
The Seychelles Institute of Agriculture and Horticulture (SIAH) and the Grand Anse Mahé Farmers Association (GAMFA) signed a medium-term contractual agreement to coordinate activities related to water use and water management as part of the institute’s training programme.
The Agriculture department in collaboration the Seychelles Trading Company (STC) imported and distributed animal feed to local livestock producers. The decision for the department of agriculture to import animal feed was taken as a means to bring about more competition in the market, and align local prices with those of the global market, following the phasing out of the previous subsidies on the product. Since September 15, local farmers were no longer benefiting from the subsidy which was introduced through a policy enforced in 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic and related economic implications resulted in soaring commodity prices across the globe. It is to note that a 25 percent reduction in subsidies became effective on August 15, and by September 1, this was further reduced to 50 percent, before being totally phased out.
To coincide with World Food Safety Day observed annually around the world on June 7, Seychelles celebrated its first Food Safety Week with an array of activities which began with the launch of the campaign at the Seychelles Hospital. The intent behind the campaign was to promote awareness and encourage adequate steps to prevent, detect and manage food borne risks.
Compiled by Patrick Joubert