Mitigation of Climate Change through Lemon Cultivation and Agricultural Food Crop at Graviers
Mitigation of Climate Change through Lemon Cultivation and Agricultural Food Crop at Graviers
1.1 Project Summary
Climate change is a global phenomenon. This is directly linked with an increase in carbon dioxide, methane and nitrogen oxide levels in the atmosphere owing to an increase in human activity on the planet. All the three gases are known as the Green House Gases (GHG). Whilst, the increase in carbon dioxide level is directly correlated to use of fossil fuels, increase in methane and nitrogen oxide is the result of intensive agriculture.
Despite the fact that the emission of GHG in Mauritius and Rodrigues is insignificant, warming-up of the planet and its effects on our natural and ecological system are already palpable. Records of temperature in Mauritius and its outer islands have shown a definite warming trend.
Similar warming trends have also been observed in Rodrigues, St Brandon and Agalega. Temperature at St Brandon and Rodrigues has warmed up by 0.5 – 1.0 oC. (Meteorological services, Mauritius)
Warming of the atmosphere has also impacted the hydrologic cycle over the southwest Indian Ocean. Long-term time series of rainfall amount over the past century (1905 to 2007) show a decreasing trend in annual rainfall over Mauritius. The total decrease during the last ten years is about 8% when compared to the 1950s.
Annual rainfall over the outer islands indicate significant variation from year to year but long-term analysis do show decreasing rainfall trend in Rodrigues.
Other observed impacts due to climate change in Rodrigues are:
- A lengthening of the intermediate dry season, the transition period between winter and summer, has been observed.
- There has been a shift in the start of the summer rains. This shift in the onset of the rains is highly significant as it translates into much pressure on the water sector to meet increasing demands of the agricultural, tourism, industrial and domestic sectors.
- The number of consecutive dry days is increasing while the number of rainy days is decreasing.
- The frequency of extreme weather events, heavy rains and storms of tropical cyclone strength or higher, has increased significantly over the last two decades.

In this respect, most countries are taking necessary measures such as increasing or maintaining forest area and shifting from non-renewable energy to renewable energy in order to adapt to climate change.
Hence, with the dual objectives of mitigating the effect of climate change, whilst concurrently reducing poverty and empowering the vulnerable groups through sustainable economic activities, the Rodrigues Regional Assembly is further encouraging and empowering the community such as women cooperatives to embark on such projects. In this perspective, the Graviers Multipurpose Cooperative Society which comprises nine (9) active members, which are ex-lagoon fishers is proposing the setting-up of a lemon production and processing industry. This project entails the plantation of at least two hundred juvenile lemon trees and other cash crops over a surface area of 8,000m2.
The harvested lemon on the site will be processed into lemon concentrates and other agro-products such as the ‘Agro-doux,’ for which Rodrigues is renowned for. The Rodrigues Regional Assembly, through the Deputy Chief Commissioner’s Office has committed a sum of MUR 4.5 million for the construction of the processing plant. The facility will be utilized and managed by two cooperatives within the vicinity of Graviers. Besides giving value addition to the ‘ti limon’ Rodrigues, one of the key objective will be to reduce the quantity of lemon spoiled each year. It is estimated that the annual production of lemon in Rodrigues oscillates between 400-500 T (Commission for Agriculture, 2013). In 2011 however, exportation of fresh lemon to Mauritius was 292 T (Digest of Statistics for Rodrigues, July 2012). This means that approximately 158 T representing 35% of the annual production is spoiled. On the other hand, the figures also reveal that fresh lemon account for nearly 100% of the total lemon exported to Mauritius – with no value addition.
Furthermore, with the objective of reducing the utilisation of fossil fuels, the project is making provision for photovoltaic solar panel with a capacity of 5 KW which will reduce the dependency of the processing plant from electricity generated from fossil fuels. Moreover, given that Graviers is a region with high solar intensity, excess electricity produced could be resold to the electrical grid at an attractive price. This will further generate income for the cooperatives and raises the project sustainability.
The project will also espouse an organic approach of cultivation. The facility will be equipped with an efficient composting unit for the production compost from organic lemon waste. The compost will be an alternative to chemical fertilisers in the lemon orchard. The ultimate idea is to obtain a green certification for the project. Moreover, the building will be equipped with

rain harvesting equipment which will also reduce dependency and pressure on the domestic water grid, especially during droughts since water will be stored in high capacity water tanks.
In light of the above, it can be said that the project is in line with the policy of the GEF, which aims at reducing greenhouse gases which in turn will mitigate the effect of climate change through the process of carbon dioxide trapping with a semi-large scale plantation of lemon trees. Equipping the project with solar panel to generate electricity will also contribute to a reduction in GHG as less fossil fuel will be used. The project aims also at empowering ex-women fishers of the Graviers through tailor-made entrepreneurship training programmes. Project will help these women generate sustainable revenues with a view to earning a better living. Furthermore, pressure on the lagoon will be unleashed such that the marine ecosystem will start rejuvenate itself. The following document gives an overview of the proposed beneficiaries, activities to be undertaken and how same will contribute to reduce the phenomenon of climate change.

1.2 Organizational Background and Capacity to implement the project
Graviers Multipurpose Cooperative Society is a woman cooperative registered in February 2013 which comprises 9 members originating from the South East region of Rodrigues. However, the group has an existence of more than ten years with the aim of developing livelihood activities to lagoonal fishing. Besides fishing, alike, the people of Graviers, the members are also involved in crop cultivation such as lemon production. The group is more or less heterogeneous; having members of varied aged group and educational background. Yet, each member of the group is complementary as each one of them is specialized in a particular activity. Leaded by Mrs Lucie PIERRE LOUIS who reckons several years in social works, Graviers Multipurpose Cooperative Society has shown the necessary willingness and motivation to achieve the desired targets and make this project a success and a model for Rodrigues as well as at the regional level.

Members of Graviers Multipurpose Cooperative Society ltd
Organigram of the Cooperative

Graviers Multipurpose Cooperative Society is currently beneficiating the support of the FAO under the Smartfish project with a view to consolidating the lemon value chain. The group is presently based at Limon D’Or situated at Marechal and is involved in the pre-processing of lemon. Owing to the far distances to be covered from Graviers to Marechal, as from next year, the group will operate in a brand new facility which is currently being financed by the Rodrigues Regional Assembly. A second group which is under registration will also use the facility for the production of Lemon concentrate. In addition, the cooperative has been granted an agricultural portion of land with an extent of 8,000m2 for the cultivation of 150 – 200 lemon trees.
Visit of Cooperative by Minister J. Seetaram In March 2013 at Limon D’Or

1.2.2 Technical Support to beneficiaries
As highlighted previously, the cooperative is beneficiating the technical and financial support of both the FAO and the RRA. Presently, a food technologist is enlisted on the project and the beneficiaries are being trained on food protocols, lemon post-harvest and quality assurance. A pool of staff in marketing, entrepreneurship, finance is also providing technical and managerial advice to the cooperative. Moreover, two mentors have been solicited to supervise the cooperative with a view to ensuring that the milestones set in the project implementation are achieved.
Being at a nascent stage, the beneficiaries are currently being fully supported, both financially and technically. Yet, the RRA will not provide and an everlasting support to the cooperative. It is expected that when the cooperative would have acquired enough technical knowhow and ability to manage the project themselves, the RRA and the other donors will gradually exit the project. With regard to the GEF project, full support will be provided over the two-year period to ensure that the project objectives are achieved.

1.2.3 Contribution of Graviers cooperative to the GEF project
The FAO Smartfish project was initiated in October 2012 with the objective of channelling lagoon fishers towards alternative livelihood activities. The project made provision for capacity building, processing equipment and the necessary components to initiate the pre-processing and processing of lemon based. Moreover, according to projection, the cooperative will require at least 400kg of fresh lemon each month for the production of 2,500 jars (100ml)/month of end products, i.e., aigre-doux, achard limon and other related products. In terms of project sustainability, it is rather uncertain whether the lemon producers of Graviers will continue play the game – that is to supply the cooperative with lemon all year round as prices will obey the demand –supply nexus. The risk is that the project fails due to price fluctuation or due to unavailability of raw materials. To mitigate such risk, the RRA has put 8,000m2 of arable land at the disposal to the cooperative for the plantation of lemon. Moreover, the authority is constructing a modern processing plant at Graviers at an estimated cost of MUR 4.5 million so that both production and processing is localized. Contract for the construction of the building will be awarded in the current month of September 2013.
Graviers is a farming village and it is not uncommon to see cattle grazing freely all around, especially during the dry season. This is a major disincentive to crop producers, especially those in region of Graviers as cultivation can be decimated within a matter of minutes. Subsequently, planting 200 lemon trees an appropriate closure system appears to be a futile initiative. Hence, the support of donors such as the GEF-SGP is being sought with a view to financing such activity. The whole of the project is congruent with the objective of the SGP to mitigate or delay the phenomenon of climate change.
The cooperative will contribute on the project by providing manpower for the cleaning-up of site, plantation of 200 lemon trees, fixing of fencing, monitoring of site, among others. The ultimate objective of the Regional Government is to set-up a model orchard with lemon plantation, interlined with other fruit trees including grenadine, pawpaw and pitaya.

1.3 Project Objectives and Expected Results

1.3.1 Problem Statement
The climatic conditions have started to be altered since the last decade. The island have started to face longer drying season, temperature rise, flash floods and other climatic

disorders which have dramatic consequences on human activities as well as on nature. Despite the fact Rodrigues’ contribution to the global phenomenon of climate change is minimal, yet it should not remain indifferent to such situations and should devise strategies so as to reduce the impact of climate change on its inhabitants. Initiatives such as the plantation of food crops capable absorbing the greatest capacity of carbon fixation and the gradual shift from the fossil fuels to renewable energy, assumes critical to achieve such objectives. Such initiatives have the greatest impacts if they contribute to improve the economic situation of some vulnerable groups of the society as well as to the marine ecosystem.

1.3.2 Primary objective of the Project
The project aims at mitigating the impact of climate change on the population of Rodrigues Island.

1.3.3 Specific Objectives
With a view to achieving the desired goals, the project will rely on the formidable capacity of some food crops to fix carbon dioxide and to encourage the use of renewable energy as alternative to electricity generated from fossil fuels.

1.3.4 Project Rationale
The popular Rodriguan lime (Citrus aurantifolia Swingle) commonly known as ‘ti limon Rodrigues’ is a strain of Mexican lime and is also called Key lime. This fruit is frost sensitive and grows in region where the average temperature is greater than 18 oC and the lowest temperature never goes below 0 oC. Citrus fruits are grown in the two belts on both sides of the equator from about 20 to 40 degrees latitude that is the tropical and sub-tropical regions. Seemingly, all citrus originated from the Himalayan region of south-western China and northern India.
Lime fruit is very small that is ranging from 38 to 50 mm of equatorial diameter, round to oval in shape with very thin, smooth and leathery rind. The flesh is greenish yellow at maturity, juicy and highly acid with distinctive aroma.
Despite the fact the uniqueness of Rodriguan lemon is praised, nonetheless, this property is not fully exploited. Each year, several tons of lemon remain spoiled in nature or exported in Mauritius without value addition. With a view to consolidating the lemon value chain, the Rodrigues Regional Assembly is providing supports to cooperatives and lemon producers. The project entails the construction of a modern lime processing facility at Graviers and the

cultivation of 200 lemon trees so as increase the autonomy of the project on the raw materials. Being a green project, the electricity required to run the processing unit will be generated from solar energy.
The project will also help to empower a fishing community of Graviers with a view to encouraging them to relinquish from fishing activities. Moreover, being a multifaceted project, several partners including the Rodrigues Regional Assembly, the FAO and the GEF-SGP would be embarked on the project. In the end, the project will help to:
- Combat the phenomenon of climate change;
- Conserve the marine ecosystem;
- Fishing communities to generate substantial revenue;
- Reduce spoilage and add value to the Rodriguan lime.
 
Loading map...

Project Snapshot

Grantee:
Graviers Multi-purpose Co-operative Society Ltd
Country:
Mauritius
Area Of Work:
Climate Change Mitigation
Grant Amount:
US$ 50,000.00
Co-Financing Cash:
US$ 151,148.00
Co-Financing in-Kind:
US$ 5,345.00
Project Number:
MAR/SGP/OP5/YR3/CORE/CC/13/02
Status:
Satisfactorily Completed
Project Characteristics and Results
Emphasis on Sustainable Livelihoods
Contribute to improve the economic situation of some vulnerable groups of the society as well as to the marine ecosystem. Set-up a model orchard with lemon plantation, interlined with other fruit trees (including passion fruit, pawpaw and pitaya).
Notable Community Participation
Provide manpower for the cleaning-up of site, plantation of the lemon trees, fixing of fencing, monitoring of site, among others.
+ View more

Partnership

FAO, RRA

Grantee Contact

Mrs. Lucie Pierre Louis
Phone: 8315516
 

Address

Graviers Rodrigues
Graviers , 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