Revitalizing the production of landrace onion seeds in Rodrigues Island through climate-resilient practices
Revitalizing the production of landrace onion seeds in Rodrigues Island through climate-resilient practices
1.1 Project Summary

Rodrigues Island forms part of the Republic of Mauritius. Situated almost 650 km north-east from the main Island, Rodrigues has a total land surface area of 108 km² (18 km long and 6 km wide) and a coast line of 80 km. In 2002, the Central Government accorded the autonomous status by setting up the Rodrigues Regional Assembly (RRA) responsible for the political and administrative management of local affairs. The RRA is headed by the Chief Commissioner and the Executive Council composed by Commissioners responsible for key development sectors. In 2010, the population accounted to 37.838 with a growth rate of 1, 25% per annum. According to recent statistics , 30.7% of the households live below the poverty line whereas in Mauritius main island poverty affects about 7.1% households.

Agriculture has been identified as one of the three pillars for the economic development of Rodrigues . However, the production of some landrace varieties has considerably decreased in the last few years mainly due to rising temperatures, variable precipitation, introduction of exotic varieties, reduced water availability and soil fertility. Several of those impacts, closely directed by climate change, have significantly altered the ecosystems upon which communities rely for agriculture and often severely affected their livelihoods and local biodiversity.

Today the production of landrace onion seeds, called the “Local Toupie” and the “Local Red” of Rodrigues, is at risk. Despite an increase of their demand, local onion seeds production has progressively diminished and planters have been obliged to purchase introduced exotic seeds from Mauritius and La Reunion islands. The production of onion seeds is facing two main challenges: scarcity of water for irrigation and birds eating onion seeds crops. As a number of planters abandoned the production, the dependence on imported seeds has considerably grown. From 25 kg imported in 2008, the Rodrigues Trade and Marketing Company (RTMC) had to purchase about 130 kg in 2011 to satisfy local demand. Not only imported varieties have a higher price than local ones, they also have a lower productivity as less adapted to Rodrigues’ climate and soil fertility.

As indicated in the “Strategic Option for Agriculture in Rodrigues” of November 2007 published by the Commission for Agriculture, Rodrigues has the capacity to increase the production of landrace onion seeds and the target production for 2015 is 1,000 tons per year. This target will be achieved only if seeds are available.

The project aims at supporting the Rodrigues Onion Seeds Producers Association to increase production of landrace onion seeds through climate-resilient adaptation practices. In line with the GEF/SGP Country Programme Strategy, activities will contribute to tackle three major challenges of Rodrigues: scarcity of water provision, land degradation and loss of landrace varieties.

SGP technical assistance will focus on three main areas:
1. Enhance local capacity in crop management,
2. Develop low-carbon agriculture practices,
3. Improve collection and distribution of water for irrigation and set up appropriate netting systems to control bird’s attacks.

Through the activities, the project will support the development of sustainable livelihoods, sustain local economy and, as a result, reduce Rodrigues’s dependence from imported varieties.

1.2 Organizational Background and Capacity to implement the project

The Rodrigues Onion Seeds Producers Association is a registered organization grouping 9 onion producers from different regions of Rodrigues . The members of the Association have an extensive demonstrated experience in onion seeds production. While some members are also fishermen, others rely on onion seeds production as main source of livelihoods.

Faced to the decrease in production of onion seeds in Rodrigues and the constant increase in the price of imported seeds, the members of the Association have decided to join force to prevent the degradation of the onion seeds production.

The mission of the Association is to revitalize onion seeds production in the island through improved agricultural practices. This will contribute to increase the supply of landrace quality seeds to onion producers at a competitive price. To meet its objective, the Association will work in close collaboration with the Commission for Agriculture and Rodrigues Trade and Marketing Company (RTMC).

1.3 Project Objectives and Expected Results

The Problem Tree illustrated below summarizes the main causes and effects of the onion seeds production decrease.

Ultimate Effects Level of poverty and unemployment increased Local biodiversity is compromised

Secondary Effects Some onion seeds producers can turn to not-sustainable practices such as fishing Onion seeds price increased Production of local onion seeds is abandoned

Immediate Effects Income of onion seeds producers is reduced Onion seeds are imported from Mauritius and La Reunion

The production of local onion seeds has steadily decreased in the last few years

Immediate causes
Lack of water to irrigate the crops Crops are eaten by birds Onion seeds producers do not compete on the market Crops production capacity is not optimised

Root causes
Water harvesting and distribution is not efficient Lack of effective crops protection system Lack of small scale enterprise management skills Lack of technical agricultural skills

The principal objective of the project is to increase the production of the Local Red and Local Toupie through climate-resilient agricultural practices. The ultimate goal is to develop sustainable livelihoods and contribute to reduce dependence on imported varieties by improving conservation practices of landrace varieties.

The project is in line with GEF Small Grants Country Programme Strategy 2011 – 2014 Immediate Objective n.6 “Maintain or improve flow of agro-ecosystem and forest ecosystem services to sustain livelihoods of local communities”, and the United Nations Delivering as One objective of increasing green jobs in Rodrigues. In addition, activities respond to the Sustainable Integrated Development Plan for Rodrigues (SIDPR) Strategy on Agriculture and the Commission of Agriculture target on increasing onion seeds production.

By the end of the project, the following results are expected:
• Local onion seeds production is increased;
• Conservation practices of landrace varieties are improved;
• Climate change vulnerability is reduced;
• Planters enhanced their capacity to treat crops illness through climate-resilient techniques;
• Planters acquired new skills in agricultural techniques;
• Planters developed capacities to manage small businesses;
• Harvesting and distribution of water resources for irrigation of onion seeds crops are improved;
• Land is rehabilitated and soil fertility is improved.
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Project Snapshot

Rodrigues Onion Seeds Producers Association
Area Of Work:
Climate Change Mitigation
Land Degradation
Grant Amount:
US$ 50,000.00
Co-Financing Cash:
US$ 20,274.00
Co-Financing in-Kind:
US$ 18,709.00
Project Number:
Satisfactorily Completed
Project Characteristics and Results
Promoting Public Awareness of Global Environment
A key leading success factor of this project is knowledge management. The Association will ensure a constant and effective communication among all project stakeholders of knowledge acquired, lessons learnt and good practices through: - Public access to training material placed on SGP/UNDP web site; - Dissemination of best practices through radio talks, community talks, video broadcasting and TV interviews; - Wide marketing with the help of RTMC; - Publication of articles on the local newspapers; - Publication of case study on GEF/SGP/UNDP website; - Participation to meetings of the Regional Platform on Agro-ecology funded by IFAD; - Workshops organised by SGP and other agencies.
Capacity - Building Component
Capacity building activities will ensure that Association will have all the skills necessary to well manage the onion production using a sustainable approach and, thus, will be able to successfully cope with environmental, social and economic factors that might affect their production.
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Number of globally significant species protected by project 1

Grantee Contact

Mr James Perrine
Phone: 726 9966


C/O Rodrigues Trading and Marketing Company (RTMC) Ltd
Citronelle , Rodrigues ,

SGP Country office contact

Mrs. Pamela Bapoo-Dundoo
(230) 213 53 84
(230) 212 14 11


2nd Floor, Sugar Industry Pension Fund Building, 1 Remy Ollier Street
Port Louis, Mauritius

Country Website