The agricultural sector in Mauritius took a hit in 2013, while fish production was on the upturn, according to data published by Statistics Mauritius.

All agricultural sectors covering sugar cane production, tobacco production, tea production, food crop production, as well as livestock suffered a setback, showed the latest figures provided by the Agricultural Research and Extension Unit (AREU) and the Mauritius Meat Authority to Statistics Mauritius.

Sugar cane production, once an important pillar of the island economy, dived from 3,947,285 tonnes in 2012 to 3,815,782 tonnes in 2013, representing a 3.3% dip. Sugar cane productivity plunged 2.9% from 72.9 tonnes per hectare in 2012 to 70.8 in 2013.

In 2012, the area harvested was 54,140 hectares whereas 53,871 hectares were harvested in 2013, a drop of 5%.

However, in a positive development, the average extraction rate increased by 2.3% from 10.38% in 2012 to 10.62% in 2013.Thus, while sugar cane production saw a 3.3% decline, the production of sugar came down by a much lower 1.1%, from 409,200 tonnes of sugar in 2012 to 404,713 tonnes in 2013.

For tobacco, harvested on an area of 2 hectares in 2013, the production of tobacco leaves declined by 99.6% to 1 tonne whereas in 2012, the area harvested was 173 hectares producing 245 tonnes of tobacco leaves. Statistics Mauritius drew the attention to the expected closing down of tobacco plantations in 2015 to indicate that the downward trend would be sustained.

Production of food crops also declined, with a dip of 2.5% from 121,106 tonnes to 118,123 tonnes spurred by a 19.5% and 14.8% dip in the production of potato and tomato. Productivity took a hit as lower yields were obtained last year even though 8,189 hectares were harvested in 2013 against 8,124 in 2012, representing a rise of 0.8%.

The production of paddy rice went down by 22.3% from 831 tonnes to 646 tonnes in 2013 as the area under cultivation decreased by 1.6% from 309 hectares in 2012 to 304 hectares in 2013.

Although tea plantation area increased by 0.4% from 669 hectares in 2012 to 672 hectares in 2013, the production of manufactured tea decreased by 0.9% from 1,577 tonnes in 2012 to 1,563 tonnes in 2013. The green tea leaves produced in 2013 were estimated at 7,981 tonnes from 7,947 tonnes in 2012 giving a rise of 0.4%.

According to data provided by the Mauritius Meat Authority, beef production from live cattle decreased by 2.0% from 1,986 tonnes in 2012 to 1,946 tonnes in 2013. The production of beef from the slaughter of imported cattle increased by 2.8% whereas that of local beef declined by 50.0%. The production of goat meat and mutton dropped by 9.8%, and pork production dropped by 5.8%.

Compared to 47,200 tonnes of poultry produced in 2012, the production of poultry in 2013 was 46,700 tonnes, representing a decrease of 1.07%.

On the other hand, even as agricultural produce (including poultry) took an all-round beating, fish production saw an increase of 10.3%.As many as 4,626 tonnes of fish were produced in 2013 against 4,194 tonnes in 2012.

This rise was attributed to the 25% increase in the production of other catch such as tuna and bank from 2,306 tonnes in 2012 to 2,883 tonnes in 2013 partly offset by a decrease of 7.7% in the production of fresh coastal fish catch from 1,888 tonnes in 2012 to 1,743 tonnes in 2013.

Image (MCFI): All agricultural sectors covering sugar cane production, tobacco production, tea production, food crop production, as well as livestock suffered a setback last year.

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