“Smart nutrition” for Indian Ocean islands
A workshop organized by the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) with the support of FAO convened in Mauritius in early June 2016, provided an opportunity for nutrition specialists from Cape Verde, Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Sao Tome and Principe, and Seychelles to share experiences on various aspects of countries’ commitments for food security and nutrition; how to ensure the linkages between nutrition, value chains, trade, fisheries, and education; and multisectoral and intersectoral coordination on nutrition.
The Regional Programme for Food Security and Nutrition (RPFSN) or PRESAN –in French- initiated by the IOC and formulated by FAO within its request, has the objective to promote increased productivity, production, competitiveness, and trade between the islands , as well as food and nutrition security in the Indian Ocean. The above mentioned workshop contributed to the PRESAN implementation.

In several provinces of Papua New Guinea, local water supplies have dried up to such extent that villagers are forced to walk for many hours to collect enough for their personal needs - not to water their crops. Some are being forced to drink contaminated water and have fallen ill, while some health facilities have closed as they have no water either. As part of its new Early Warning Early Action response strategy for El Niño, FAO is targeting severely affected countries such as Papua New Guinea with support including drought adaptation training and seed re-stocking.

The Member States of the IOC have high dependency on imported food. Indeed, the rate of food self-sufficiency is only 25% for Mauritius, and 28% for the Seychelles. This rate rises to 71% for Comoros and to 96% for Madagascar. The average rates of the main imports of the four countries were: cereals 31%; rice 24%; vegetable oils 16%; meat products 6%, and the milk products 4%. The intra-regional trade in agricultural products represented only 4% of these imports. Imported products come mainly from very distant countries such as Brazil, South-East Asian countries. The regional food import bill sums up to a total of 1,335 million euros, which causes trade deficit. With an estimated population growth of 2.4%, it is projected that there will be an increase in food demand of about 4.4% per year. If no action is to be taken to address the insufficient level of local production to feed the Indian Ocean population, food demand will continue to grow, and Indianoceania will continue to import food from distant areas. Although there is a considerable agricultural potential in the region, especially in Madagascar, which alone possesses about 99% of the surface of the both islands, and a potential of 98% of arable land (2.2 million hectares) to use.

PRESAN strategy is based on the value chain approach and the introduction of incentive instruments for public and private sectors actors to join efforts for the implementation of the actions concerning the three priorities of the Programme which are (i) to increase productivity, production and competitiveness in sectors of regional interest (the following sectors have been declared of community interest by IOC: rice, corn, onion, beans, red meat (zebu and goat), poultry, fruits and vegetables), (ii) to facilitate and improve intra-regional trade of these products, and (iii) to ensure food and nutrition security of the islands’ populations. Funds for Food Security and Nutrition will be established to implement this programme as well as to address the global and specific needs and conditions in the IOC countries. Cconditionality of these funds will be announced during the first year of implementation of the Programme.

The PRESAN is expected to start this year 2016. The programme regional coordination unit in Antananarivo, Madagascar, will be established. FAO Africa Regional Conference held in Abidjan from 4 to 8 April 2016, urged the monitoring of the outcome document of the FAO/WHO Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) and to support small island developing states in the formulation of their nutrition policies. FAO actively supports SIDS to address sustainable development issues related to food security, nutrition, and agriculture. Food security and nutrition are priority areas for achieving sustainable development in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

Copyright 2016 United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs