Government intervention

Profile:
Medine Camp de Masque Co-operative
Product focus: Cane sugar
Location: Mauritius

Type: Small-scale producers – 450 farmers
Fairtrade certified since: 2009
Contact: Chabelaall Dabydoyal – medineccs@yahoo.com

Challenge

A few years ago, the cane sugar farmers of Medine Camp started to notice a gradual reduction in their output. Researchers from the Mauritius Sugar Industry Research Institute (MSIRI), engaged by the government of Mauritius, discovered that the cane setts had been affected by pests as well as excessive weeds. The researchers recommended the use of fungicides and herbicides as the main solution. Elated to find the cause of their problem, the farmers were also facing new problems as the pesticides were costly and they did not have available storage facilities.

Solution

While still deliberating for a solution, the farmers received their first ever Fairtrade premium. They decided to use the premium to buy the fungicides and herbicides in bulk, after which each farmer could purchase it at subsidised rates. The premium was also used to buy a property and a plot of land from one of their members with an intent of constructing a storage facility. The house was turned into a chemical storage facility in compliance with the requirements of Fairtrade and the local authority, including correct signs and notices, proper ventilation, air extractor, non-combustible racks, bund wall to retain spills and proper electrical installation.

Training the farmers on safe handling of chemicals was the next step. Medine Camp engaged the Farmers Service Agency of Mauritius as well as their secretary Chabeelall Dabydoyal, who had adequate skills in Cane and Sugar Production from the University of Mauritius, to conduct training.

Costs

The costs below were partly funded by Fairtrade premiums:

Item Cost in USD
Training costs (attendance fees, refreshments and training materials) 4,500
Cost of safety equipment in general & boots 65
Cost of herbicides per hectare per application (the number of applications can be one or two maximum) 97
Cost of fungicides per cane cycle 12
TOTAL 4,674

Results

The farmers’ output has increased and they no longer experience any losses. They apply the herbicides twice in a year while the fungicides are applied with every new planting season. Since the application of these chemicals in 2010, they have been able to keep the weeds and pests at bay.