Coconut Fibre Farming to Fight Poverty
The Agalega is a group of two small islands, the North island which is the main island, and the South Island, located in the Indian Ocean, 1122 Km (697 miles) north of Mauritius. Both islands are part of the territories and dependencies of the Republic of Mauritius with a population of roughly 300.
As mentioned in the Coco Nu La Vie project description, Agalega is comprised of approximately 2600 hectares, 800 hectares of which are dedicated to coconut plantations. Coconut production will remain one of the main economic activities, as the administrative authority intends to expand the coconut plantations to include a total of 1500 hectares. This will enable the island to become self-sufficient with respect to bio fuel within 5 to 7 years.
Development on the island has been limited; literacy is low, while unemployment is high– particularly among women and high-school dropouts. The island has been identified as a pocket of poverty by the central government, however there is no plan for infrastructural development (i.e., tourism). Based on these factors, it is clear there is need for employment or self-employment opportunities.
Goals and Objectives
As a readily available resource, coconut fibre was believed suitable for household greenhouse farming. The goal of greenhouse farming was to contribute to poverty reduction by providing opportunities for the local female population of Agalega while also ensuring the availability of local fresh vegetables. Lack of fresh vegetables has been identified as a significant shortfall due to the three-month shipping cycle and sandy soil conditions in Agalega, which is generally unsuitable for vegetation.
Project goals & objectives included the following:
- Using a natural resource which would otherwise be wasted- re-use- innovation;
- Green house farming- eco-friendly innovative activity;
- Build capacity and skills of local females about modern and intensive agriculture;
- Promote new technique;
- Boost their capacity to generate income;
- Improve lifestyle and food consumption habits (increased availability of fresh vegetables).
Building on the success of the Coco Nu La Vie project and taking full advantage of existing resources, the cocoponics project provided employment for 10-15 women and school dropouts in Agalega, through coconut fibre farming to generate additional income.
In order to create the necessary infrastructure for the cocoponics project, three household greenhouses and one water harvester (water collection & irrigation) were constructed on the island of Agalega.