LALIT is publishing the letter sent to Minister of Finance concerning our proposals for the 2015 budget. The letter was accompanied with LALIT’s booklet on alternative politics for the economy., Food Security Charter and a LALIT's video film on sugar and agriculture. The dossier was submitted on Thursday 5th February 2015 and a copy was also sent to the Minister of Agriculture.
To Hon. S.Lutchmeenaraidoo,
Minister of Finance and Economic Development,
Government House, Mauritius.
4 February, 2015.
We are writing to you in the context of the forthcoming 2015 Budget, with suggestions regarding measures for agricultural diversification and food production.
On 16th April 2008, in the context of a grave international food crisis, we addressed a letter and a voluminous dossier to the then Minister of Finance. Our suggestions do not appear to have produced the necessary response. Instead the then government plunged deeper into allocating resources to transform the sugar industry into a “cane industry”, with massive job destruction. At the time we argued that the sugar/cane industry did not have much of a future, with the price of sugar on a slippery slope, hence the need to consider diversifying agriculture.
The price of sugar has continued to plunge to levels where cane planters are giving up cultivating their land, without there being any strategic planning for alternative crops. Government is at present having to subsidise cane plantation to the tune of over Rs. 200 million a year: resources that should be allocated to alternative crops, transformation and preservation of food crops, devlopment of a sustainable fishing industry.
We are suggesting that in the next Budget, special attention should be given to development that will create stable employment on a large scale:
1. Financial and logistic support for planters of food crops, animal rearing, sustainable industrial fishing.
2. The University of Mauritius should organise Seminars and Conferences to integrate traditional knowhow with modern scientific farming.
3. Development of industries for foodstuff transformation and preservation, for local consumption, price stabilising, and export.
4. Resources allocated to studying potential export markets for food products, and the promotion of such exports.
5. Bring about legislation that aims to reserve a sufficient, and increasing, proportion of agricultural land for food crops and animal rearing.
6. Resources to encourage co-operative production of food crops, meat production and fishing.
The above measures, if integrated into the economic development agenda, could create stable employment, assure food security in the long term, have a positive effect on the balance of payments and decrease dependence on sugar which has very limited viability.
We hope you will consider the above suggestions when preparing the next Budget Speech.
We are including a number of documents to support our proposals.
a) LALIT’s booklet on alternative politics for the economy.
b) Food Security Charter
c) 19 Minute LALIT video film on sugar and agriculture.
Ram Seegobin, For LALIT
Copy to: Hon. M.K.Seeruttun, Minister of Agro-Industry and Food Security, and the Press.