Conserving and adding value to landrace turmeric of Rodrigues Island
Conserving and adding value to landrace turmeric of Rodrigues Island
1.1 Project Summary

Rodrigues Island is a low-income economy based on traditional agriculture, fishing and livestock rearing. In 2002 the central Government of Mauritius granted a political autonomy to Rodrigues by setting up the Rodrigues Regional Assembly (RRA) to administrate local affairs. Within the RRA, the Chief Commissioner has been given the mandate for strengthening and modernizing the agricultural sector as indicated in the Sustainable Integrated Development Plan for Rodrigues (SIDPR) developed with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). 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, reduced water availability and soil fertility as well as introduction of other exotic varieties and unfair competition from imported products. Such 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.

The landrace turmeric is particularly at risk. This plant, belonging to the ginger family and classified as Curcuma Longa, is well appreciated by consumers for the powerful health-enhancing rhizomes used both for medicinal and culinary consumption. Turmeric rhizomes are indeed rich in antioxidant and have anti-arthritic, antithrombotic, antibacterial, antiviral, choleric and anti-hepatotoxic properties. Recent researches now report that turmeric effectively blocks the promotion of cancerous tumors. In addition, after being boiled, dried and ground, the powder is added into curries spices for the preparation of traditional Mauritian dishes.

Despite the high demand from consumers, the planters of turmeric, about 90 in Rodrigues, are progressively reducing the production due to the unprofitable terms of exchange on the market. Planters collect the turmeric once a year and sell most of the harvest of fresh rhizomes to traders who export the product to Mauritius. The Rodrigues Trade and Marketing Company (RTMC) estimates that traders sell fresh turmeric at three times more the buying price in Rodrigues. As a consequence, several planters have abandoned the production of turmeric.

To prevent a loss of this landrace biodiversity, the project aims at supporting the Rodrigues Turmeric Producers Association (RTPA) in adding market value to turmeric through the transformation into powder. The price of the turmeric powder is 500 Rs per Kg, meaning 16 times more than the fresh rhizomes . The project will assist the Association in providing the appropriate machines and trainings for the professional processing of turmeric and its characterization and branding on the local and international market.

Planters will adopt a climate-resilient approach to turmeric production by:
- Adopting agro-ecology techniques increasing biodiversity and buffering capacity of soils;
- Composting from agricultural waste;
- Setting up efficient rainwater harvesting and storage;
- Assessing greenhouse gas emissions avoided with low-carbon activities and development of carbon sinks.

The RTPA will produce, harvest process and package powder turmeric for local market and export. New niches products not only will add value to the commercial use of turmeric in Rodrigues, but also will help planters to develop new technical skills, diversify their production and increase their income. A strategic partnership with the RTMC will ensure the purchase of the Association powder turmeric for export to Mauritius at a competitive price. The project will thus contribute to develop sustainable livelihoods and reduce Mauritius dependency from imported turmeric powder.

1.2 Organizational Background and Capacity to implement the project

The Turmeric association is a recently registered organization composed by five women and one man, all professional planters of turmeric. The members cultivate turmeric in their lands of 4.000 m2 each, located in the area of Mont Plaisir. Most of them are also already traditionally and artisanally preparing the powder of turmeric and selling it to the local market in Port Mathurin. Through the project, the Association will be able to professionalize the processing of turmeric, add market value to a local product and protect its biodiversity. Finally this will contribute to develop sustainable livelihoods and prevent the increasing degradation of lands due to the abandonment of agricultural activities.
1.3 Project Objectives and Expected Results

The project will support the development of powder turmeric production in Rodrigues by setting up a low-carbon process from the cultivation to boiling, drying, polishing and grinding the rhizomes. The project aligns with the objectives of the Strategic Option for Agricultural Sector in Rodrigues and with the priorities of the recently elected RRA on the valorization of local products such as the turmeric. Activities responds also to the 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 to the UN Delivering as One strategy of developing green jobs in Rodrigues.

By the end of the project, the following results are expected:
• Efficient water catchment and use are established;
• Environmental conservation practices of landrace turmeric are improved;
• Climate –resilient techniques are set up to control and reduce greenhouse gas emissions;
• Powder turmeric production is developed using solar powered machines;
• New niche products of organic turmeric are investigated and developed;
• Planters acquired new skills in agro-processing techniques;
• Planters developed capacities to manage small businesses;
• Dependence on imported turmeric varieties is reduced.
 
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Project Snapshot

Grantee:
Rodrigues Turmeric Producers Association
Country:
Mauritius
Area Of Work:
Biodiversity
CapDev
Climate Change Mitigation
Grant Amount:
US$ 50,000.00
Co-Financing Cash:
US$ 5,245.00
Co-Financing in-Kind:
US$ 22,025.00
Project Number:
MAR/SGP/OP5/CORE/BD/12/08
Status:
Satisfactorily Completed
Project Characteristics and Results
Promoting Public Awareness of Global Environment
Planters together with the project manager will design and implement a communication strategy to best market niche products and share best practices. This will include the upgrade of RTMC website to promote the products and the development of a video illustrating the project and its best practices as well as radio talks, workshop and interviews to the national television. 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 assistance of RTMC; - Publication of articles on the local newspapers; - Publication of a case study on GEF/SGP/UNDP and RTMC websites; - Participation to meetings of the Regional Platform on Agro-ecology funded by IFAD; - Workshops organised by SGP and other agencies.
Capacity - Building Component
The Association, composed by a majority of women, is committed to ensure that: - Gender constraints will be considered and minimised in each activity - Access to sustainable livelihoods will be equally provided to both men and women - Women and men of the association will acquire new skills on agricultural techniques and processing - Women and men business skills will be improved - Effective communication to gender-based associations and RRA Commission of Gender will be established and maintained - Monitoring and evaluation reports will ensure analysis of gender indicators - Trainings classes on project management will include a course on formulation and implementation of projects with gender components - Trainings will be equally accessible to women and men.
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Indicators
Biophysical
Number of globally significant species protected by project 1
Biophysical
Hectares of globally significant biodiversity area protected or sustainably managed by project 2
Empowerment
Number of women participated / involved in SGP project 6
Livehood
Number of households who have benefited* from SGP project 6

Partnership

Rodrigues Regional Assembly

Grantee Contact

Mrs Anne Denise Felicite-Evenor
Phone: 58753469
Email: azelleleanne62@gmail.com
 

Address

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

SGP Country office contact

Mrs. Pamela Bapoo-Dundoo
Phone:
(230) 213 53 84
Fax:
(230) 212 14 11
Email:

Address

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

Country Website