Collaborative Projects (Local & Regional) Undertaken by FAREI
PROJECT: FOOD-SEC SEMENCE (Relance d’une filière régionale de semences et de plants certifiés, adaptés au changement climatique pour les productions agricoles à des fins alimentaires et nutritionnelles)
Mauritius is participating in the Food-Sec Semence project which forms part of the regional support programme for food and nutritional security in the Indian Ocean region (FOOD-SEC), funded by the European Union under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF).
Partners involved in the implementation of the project are CIRAD (Reunion Island), FOFIFA (Madagascar), FAREI (Mauritius), NBA (Seychelles) and the University of the Comoros.
The objectives of the project include production, testing and dissemination of disease free planting material of cassava, potato, maize and leguminous crops with improved nutritional quality.
In the local context, the general aim is to strengthen the potato and bean seed sectors which will be analysed through a commodity chain survey. One major activity is the morphological characterisation of the recommended elite bean varieties FBS 1, FBS 2 and Ferrina and potato variety Vigora using the Distinctness, Uniformity and Stability (DUS) descriptors in line with the international UPOV guidelines for cataloguing and eventual registration with the National Plant Varieties and Seeds Office. In addition seed multiplication will be upscaled, with a target production of certified seeds of 1.0 tonne for bean variety FBS 1, 0.5 tonne each for FBS 2 and Ferrina and 1.5 tonnes for potato variety Vigora. Furthermore, the seeds produced will be tested in farmers’ fields using agroecological farming practices and disseminated on a larger scale.
Finally, this project will contribute to enhance regional food security through availability of healthy and high quality planting material.
More information is available on the links below: https://www.facebook.com/FoodSecSemence
This project is co-financed by the European
Union and Indian Ocean Commission.
Time frame: 2021 to 2025
Irrigated Systems for increased Food Production and Income Generation (AFRA)
Time Frame – 2019 – 2021 (current IAEA cycle)
Project Concept – The project RAF/5/079 (Cycle 2019 -2021) is a continuation of the IAEA-RAF 5071 project which was initiated by the IAEA in March 2014 with the objective of enhancing food security, income and the resilience of smallholder farmer through climate change adaptive, mitigation and coping strategies. The objective is to improve income generation and livelihood of resource poor farmers, more precisely women’s and vulnerable groups, through the enhanced production of vegetable crops under gravity drip irrigation/fertigation technology.
- Implementation of Gravity-fed drip irrigation systems in Mauritius and Rodrigues: Twenty-six 250 m2 at the level of vulnerable groups, women’s groups and Secondary Schools-Agricultural Youth Clubs, four 1000 m2 units and six 2000 m2 units at farmers’ level. The beneficiaries, other farmers and extension staff were trained.
- A Silver Award was won by the FAREI at the National Productivity and Quality Convention (NPQC) in 2019.
- A national Training Course on ‘Oxygen-18 and Evapotranspiration Separation’ was hosted in 2019.
- Fertiliser use efficiencies of major vegetable crops were successfully assessed using the N-15 tracer techniques.
- Research and Extension staff were trained by IAEA in socio-economic aspects of irrigation, and on water quality in Botswana and Kenya respectively.
to assess the biological nitrogen fixation in legumes in an organic production system
Time frame – 2019 – 2022
- The use of nuclear technique is a means of estimating the biological nitrogen fixation from the applied fertiliser. In this project research was undertaken so as to assess the biological nitrogen fixation in bean and cowpea in an organic production system by using the 15N tracer technique.
- Samples were sent to IAEA Seibersdorf Lab, Vienna for analysis. Results have already been obtained and data analysis and report writing are in progress. The use of 15N tracer techniques in this study will enable the assessment of % Nitrogen derived from air in two legumes namely bean and cowpea. Thus, the fertiliser regime of both of these two legumes can be reviewed for both organic and conventional agriculture.
- The N fixing ability of legumes in the local context is determined.
- Fertiliser recommendation in legume crops reviewed.
- An integrated soil fertility management in organic crop production that include legumes in the rotation developed.
Time Frame – IAEA:2020 – 2024
Project Concept – The IAEA technical cooperation project RAF5083, is a continuation of the Project RAF/5076 (AFRA) ‘’Improving crops using mutation induction and biotechnology through a farmer participatory approach’. Under this project, the activity being conducted by FAREI concerns the improvement of taro through in-vitro mutagenesis. To develop mutant lines showing tolerance/resistance to taro leaf blight disease which has caused drastic drop in taro production since 1995.
- Two promising irradiated colocasia lines have been selected for on-farm evaluation to assess farmers’ appreciation and these lines are also being maintained in-vitro using protocol developed under the project. It is expected that at least one irradiated line is accepted by growers for local cultivation by end of the project.
- Micropropagation methodology developed for taro.
- Low-cost substrate has also been identified for hardening and potting of tissue culture plantlets prior to transplanting in field.
- Officers involved in the project benefitted from short training courses.
- A scientific paper was presented at the mutation breeding symposium in Vienna.
- PNG 13, a leaf blight tolerant variety, introduced from Fiji, in the year 2013 is appreciated by the planting community.
- Approximately 10,000 suckers had been given to growers.
- The variety produces 10 to 15 suckers compared to the local variety.
- Farmers can multiply their own planting material.
in Mutation Induction and Biotechnology (2007-2015)
Time Frame – 2007- 2015
- Although the project cycle has been completed for IAEA, some activities are on-going at FAREI especially on banana. A local dessert-type banana, the Gingeli banana, is highly appreciated for its typical soft, dry-textured and sweet-acidulated pulp. This variety, however, is tall and susceptible to both banana weevil and to race 1 of Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense (FOC) and this partly accounts for its limited exploitation at large scale.
- Tomato production fluctuates causing price fluctuations on the market. During the summer months, temperatures above 300 C cause a high percentage of flower drop affecting crop productivity. To produce mutant lines of banana variety Gingeli which are dwarf and tolerant/resistant to Fusarium oxysporum, f. sp. cubense (FOC).
- To develop new germplasm of tomato that is heat and bacterial wilt tolerant.
- Release of 3 tomato mutants in September 2019, out of which 2 are heat stress tolerant. This was the first successful project on the use of mutation breeding in the country.
- The double tray system for greenhouse screening of variants with respect to FoC was modified and adapted.
- Banana mutants with improved yield were identified and currently under evaluation to assess stability.
- During fellowship/capacity building provided under the above project, 3 staff from Fruit Division were trained. Ploidy level and genomic group of local banana varieties were determined. This is a major achievement as banana is complex in terms of ploidy and genomic group, and the research work carried out during the fellowship allowed to discriminate among the several local accessions.
- The low-cost TILLING methods developed by IAEA, was adapted and fine-tuned.
- At CIRAD, Montpellier, sequencing of M.acuminata genome that allowed to find the evolution of monocots were studied (paper was published).
- Development of low-cost method for DNA extraction of about 16 woody and non-woody species. The technique low-cost EcoTILLING was validated (both PCR and agarose gel electrophoresis).
- Molecular Lab through purchase of equipment/consumables was set at FAREI.
- A cold room was acquired.
- Five research staff benefitted from fellowship training on mutation breeding and molecular biology respectively at The National Institute of Agricultural Science (INCA), CUBA, Seibersdorf, Austria, Institute National Agronomique de Tunisie and Montpellier France.
- Three project coordinators benefited from scientific visits to INCA, and to the University of Colombo, Department of Plant Sciences, Sri Lanka, to the Molecular Laboratory in Seibersdorf Austria and to University of California.
- Ten Expert missions were organised whereby research staff benefitted from training in Molecular Biology, Mutation breeding, design and monitoring of field trials, disease detection, establishment of physiological methods for heat stress and heat tolerance screening.
- 15 scientific publications had been presented in International meeting/conference and symposium.
- Seeds of tomato varieties should be made available to growers.
- Assistant Director (Crop) gave seeds to Barkly ES for multiplication.
- In parallel, the FAREI does seed multiplication to some extent.