Adaptation to Impacts of Climate Change on the Food and Nutrition Security Status of a Small Island Developing State: The Case of the Republic of Seychelles

Adaptation to Impacts of Climate Change on the Food and Nutrition Security Status of a Small Island Developing State: The Case of the Republic of Seychelles

Antoine Marie Moustache (Ministry of Natural Resources, Republic of Seychelles)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6501-9.ch004
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More frequent extreme weather events, foreseen with climate change, will impact severely on the agricultural and fisheries production systems of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) such as the Seychelles Islands. Understanding the impacts on agricultural production and coastal fisheries is important to plan adaptation measures for sustainable development, particularly for national food and nutrition security. This chapter addresses some impacts on soil systems in Seychelles: the main cultivation medium. It proposes soil management and conservation practices, and adaptation measures relevant to farm structures and homes to counter these impacts. It addresses alien invasive species and their impacts on food production systems along with coastal fisheries. In conclusion, it urges the implementation of simple, cost-effective adaptation measures to counter these threats.
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Agriculture And Food Security In The Seychelles

The Seychelles is a democratic republic consisting of 115 islands located in the Western Indian Ocean 55.6 degrees east of the Greenwich Meridian and 5 degrees south of the equator. The total land area is 455km2 and the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) comprises 1.3 million km2 of ocean. The archipelago is largely composed of granitic and coralline islands. The geopolitical location of the Seychelles is in Eastern Africa with 100% boundaries consisting of more than 600 km of coastlines, and the country is relatively isolated. Seychelles, as a Small Island Developing State (SIDS), has generally positive key development indicators; especially literacy rate for both sexes (94%), low maternal and infant mortality rates, life expectancy at birth of 74.2 years for both sexes and a high proportion of the population with access to potable drinking water (95%) and with access to sanitation (97%).

Mahe, which is the principal island of the Seychelles’ archipelago, has some 90% of the population of 89, 949 people (National Bureau of Statistics, 2013), is the seat of government and the center of the major economic activities of the Seychelles’ group of islands. Forty three of the islands are granitic and the rest are coralline (National Bureau of Statistics, 2010). Soils are predominantly poor, acidic, lateritic soils on the slopes while equally poor alkaline calcareous sandy soils prevail on the narrow coastal strips around the main granitic islands.

Figure 1.

Map of the Seychelles

Agricultural production is done on small commercial farms which are 0.5 hectares on average with characteristic mixed farming under a range of technology and management inputs. There are 600 registered farmers who cultivate a total of 350 hectares of agricultural land. Prior to the year 2008, some 100% of table eggs, 60%-65% of broiler poultry, pork, fruit and vegetables and less than 2% of beef consumed were produced locally. After 2008, following the world economic downturn and the implementation of austere national economic reform programmes (which opened up markets for the import of meats), led to the collapse of the national livestock sub-sector; which is inextricably linked to the crops sub-sector through the undeniable manure input. This led to a near total collapse of the performance of the latter. Local food output in relation to national food consumption is now 100% table eggs, 50% fruit and vegetables, 7% pork and 10% broiler poultry (Ministry of Natural Resources, 2013). The balance of the food consumed is imported from regional markets which have to cater additionally for a tourist population (229,500 tourist arrivals for 2013).

National food and nutrition security status is heavily impacted by a growing local population at a natural rate of increase of 2.5% (between June 2012 and June 2013) (National Bureau of Statistics, 2013), changes and uncertainties in global food systems and volatility in food prices (driven by many factors including climate change). Seychelles is highly dependent on food importation, hence its increased exposure to non-accessibility brought about by import restrictions imposed by exporting countries on some food commodities. Food imports into the Seychelles in 2011 totaled around USD $87.79 million, while food exports amounted to USD $40.88 million, of which 91% was attributed to fish and fish products.

Obesity observed in all sex and age categories increased markedly between 1989 and 2004 from 29% to 52% in men and from 50% to 67% in women (Bovet et al. 2004). This is further exemplified by the fact that 60% of Seychellois are overweight with 25% of this group being obese (Bovet et al. 2008). At the same time, Muller (2012) found that 17% of the Seychellois in 2006 were below the Seychelles poverty line of SR 13,554 (USD $2464.4 at the 2006 exchange rate) per adult equivalent per year; based on subsistence minima expressed in terms of total consumption expenditure rather than on nutrient minima.

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