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Réponse du minsitre de l’Agro-Industrie à Nando Bodha

Mahen Seeruttun a répondu lors de la séance parlementaire du 26 mars 2024 à la question du député de la circonscription La Caverne/Vacoas cncernant les légumes.

B/34 The Honourable Second Member for Vacoas and Floreal (Mr. Bodha)

To ask the Honourable Minister of Agro-Industry and Food Security –

Whether, in regard to vegetables, he will state (a) the number of permits granted for the importation thereof (a) and (b) amount thereof imported this year, indicating if a mark-up policy was applied to control the high price thereof?

Mr Speaker Sir,

1. I wish to inform the House that Mauritius is self-sufficient in most of fresh vegetables under normal climatic conditions. However, the volume produced varies according to seasons as well as prices which are according to demand and supply. Owing to our tropical climate and climate change, the island faces adverse weather conditions impacting negatively on vegetable production. For instance, early this year, vegetable production was affected by more than 50% mainly due to cyclone Belal.

2. In view of the foreseen shortage of vegetables on the local market at that time and to stabilise the consequential increase in prices, my Ministry initiated actions through the Agricultural Marketing Board (AMB) to import fresh vegetables. On the other hand, import permits are being granted all year round for the imports by private entities, as various crops cannot be produced locally.

3. In respect of part (a) and (b) of the question, I am informed that from January 2024 to 20 March 2024, the National Plant Protection Office (NPPO) of my Ministry issued 972 import permits for the importation of some 865 tonnes of vegetables, comprising carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, sweet pepper, lettuce, beans, beetroot, broccoli, fine herbs and chilli, out of which imports by the AMB stand at 236 tonnes while the private sector imported 629 tonnes.

As local production of vegetables is expected to be back to normal by May 2024, no new imports will be made by that date. On the other hand, importation by regular private importers specific for the hospitality sector, is being monitored closely by the NPPO.

4. Production of onions, potatoes and garlic are highly dependent on seasonality. Production season is from end of July to December for potato whereas for onion, it is from August to November. In view of the fact that their storage lasts only for a few months, importation of same is undertaken by the AMB to ensure consistent supply to the market.

As regards strategic crops, I am also informed by the Agricultural Marketing Board (AMB) that some 4564 tonnes of onions and 3806 tonnes of potatoes have been imported and the quantum imported for garlic amounts to 364 tonnes. There is no shortage of these products and the local market is fully supplied.

5. In respect of the markup policy, I wish to inform the House that all products imported by the AMB are sold at subsidised prices to the public, thus playing a key role in price stabilisation in the local market. A mark-up of around 22-25% is applied on the cost prices of potatoes and onions, as the wholesale price is fixed by the Agricultural Marketing Board (AMB) and retail price is fixed by the Ministry of Commerce and Consumer Protection. The auction prices and volume of locally produced vegetables traded at the National Wholesale Market (NWM) are affixed on a daily basis on the website of the AMB. Hence, a comparison made in prices at the markets and supermarkets/hypermarkets shows a huge price difference.

The possibility of applying the same formula and markup policy as in the case of potatoes and onions to other vegetables is being looked into by my Ministry together with the Food and Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (FAREI), Small Farmers Welfare Fund (SFWF), Agricultural Marketing Board (AMB) and the Ministry of Commerce and Consumer Protection. All implications would have to be analysed to ensure a win-win situation for producers, consumers and stakeholders in the supply chain.

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