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According to the Special Adviser from the Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture, Antoine Marie Moustache, the nation’s farmers in 2013 requested that their agricultural land have alternative uses, and one proposal was agro-tourism. The session on Tuesday looked at how to develop the agro-tourism business, which involves any agriculturally-based operations or activity that brings visitors to a farm. In Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean, ten people are presently doing this form of business.
“We now have an opportunity to start a new activity that will give tourists an experience of Seychelles farm and in return generate income for the farmers, but we need to look at the best way to implement this,” Moustache said. He added that more than 95 percent of farms are on state land and have been used traditionally for the production of fruits, vegetables and root crop for food security.
The session included local stakeholders — farmers, owners of tourism establishments and tourism and agricultural officers — who gave their views on some issues like barriers to agro-tourism, how to market the business and the policies needed for its implementation.
One of the participants, Stella Gouffay, owner of Lemongrass Lodge in Mare Anglaise, in the north of Mahe, welcomed the idea. Gouffay said she loves gardening, and already her clients enjoy visiting her gardens of fruits, herbs and flowers. “Most visitors are eager to learn about that aspect of Seychelles, such as how we grow our fruits and vegetables and raise farm animals, so I think this project would be a good one the country,” she said.
Farmer Hedson Philo of Bel Ombre told SNA he came up with this idea of agro-farming over 20 years ago. Philo owns four acres of land, grows root crop, fruits and does bee-keeping and said he was glad the project was finally being discussed. “I hope that all actors involved especially the Ministry of Agriculture now can come up with innovative ideas and policies and support farmers who would like to venture into this line of business,” said Philo.
The points made in the session will be included in a national strategy for the development of agro-tourism.“We need to take a position on how we should implement such an activity and it is important therefore that we hear from people who are involved in this business,” said Moustache. Once the strategy is in place, Moustache said Seychelles would seek the assistance of the FAO for its implementation and it could include a pilot project where few farms will be chosen. “At present, we are talking around 2 million rupees ($149,000) per year from this sector, but there is no limit as it can generate up to 10 million rupees ($744,000) per year or more,” said Moustache

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