Agricultural entrepreneurship – Practical issues

Recently, the President of the Republic Sir Anerood Jugnauth remarked that the youth seem no longer interested with activities related to agriculture and there was a need to add technological dimensions to agricultural activities to lure some of them back. For his part Mr Satish Faugoo the Minister of Agriculture spoke of the need for agricultural entrepreneurship while the Prime Minister Dr Navin Ramgoolam stressed the need for smart entrepreneurship.
Add to this, the forecast by the Food and Agricultural Organization to the effect that food prices will double worldwide in the next ten years. For Mauritius food security and the money to eventually fund the existing one billion-dollar bill for food imports is a reality to live with. There is also the need meanwhile for Mauritius to get more FDI.

Practical issues of agricultural entrepreneurship
When one goes to public markets one can notice the low prices of some vegetables. Markets overseas can be sought for these goods when they are available for cheap prices locally.
A good example of agricultural entrepreneurship is the recent winner of the “ Boss” television programme sponsored by the Development Bank of Mauritius. The winner is exporting banana leaves and banana chips. Mauritians have since long been exporting flowers, litchis and pineapples.
These days Chayotte (chouchou) in a supermarket is being sold at a very low price. In UK one unit of Chayotte sells for over 45 rupees.  The entrepreneur who happens to successfully export ten tons of good quality chayottes will never look back again in terms of potential revenues. Small chillies (petits piments) are available at around one hundred rupees a kilo and this much sought product if exported to Europe can  fetch about ten-fold the price after the payment of air freight. Patty-pan squash (patisson) over one kilo each are available these days at around twenty rupees – they can sell for a hefty profit in places like Qatar and Europe. The same goes for lady fingers (lalo),  jack fruit, bread fruit (fruit à pain) etc.
Planes from Mauritius reach European destinations within 12 hours and Dubai within six hours, so quality conservation should not be too big a problem. With good logistics support the freshness will still be there at the time of opening of business in countries where the goods are exported.  There are huge opportunities for export of apartment plants in the Gulf provided relevant advice is given and implemented at the time of export. One can also mention the very real opportunity to create a new multi million dollar industry out of algae production and processing
Authorities should help prospective entrepreneurs with sound advice and maybe sponsor participation in trade fairs in possible export markets and help unleash a new generation of agricultural entrepreneurs and help the country. In the process, contacts with big supermarket chains in the Gulf and Europe should be established. If all of the above happens, the multiplier effects in job and new wealth creation cannot not be overlooked.