World Agriculture Watch

Towards an Observatory of Agriculture within the Indian Ocean region


Defining and implementing a regional observatory of agricultures within the Indian Ocean is one of the key projects of the PRéRAD-OI (Plateforme Régionale de Recherche en Agronomie pour le Développement dans l’Océan Indien – Regional platform of Agricultural Research for the Indian Ocean development). This project is supported by the Indian Ocean Commission (COI) and managed by Cirad La Réunion (the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development). It is a regional component of WAW/OAM (World Agriculture Watch / Observatoire des agricultures du monde) hosted by FAO in Rome.  

At this stage, initial consultations with PRéRAD-OI partners including new ones, took place among three countries (La Réunion (France), Madagascar and Mauritius) jointly by FAO and Cirad. The FAO Representative for Madagascar and the Indian Ocean, and Cirad Regional Director for Madagascar and Austral Africa chaired a joint meeting with Madagascar institutions and stakeholders hosted at FAO premises in Antananarivo on 13 December 2019. 

Additional contacts were established with Comoros, the Seychelles and Mayotte (France) in February and March 2020. EU funds allow to build the project in 2020. To this end, a junior expert will be operating from La Réunion (France), starting April 2020; with the mandate to define the project document based on extensive consultations with the PRéRAD-OI partners and the other partners, and a diagnosis of existing information systems. Given the weight of Madagascar in terms of family farms and the importance of agriculture sector for the “Great Island”, a second junior expert will work in Madagascar. Reseau SOA (Family farmer organization) will host him and AFDI Madagascar (Agriculteurs français et développement international) will provide additional support. As Reseau SOA is member of the National Committee of Family Farming, the project formulation will pay attention to support Family Farmers in developing their own information systems whenever needed. 

Even if the islands are diverse by size, history, agrarian and economical structure, these preliminary consultations revealed themes of convergence such as youth installations in agriculture, transition to agro ecological patterns of production, specific value chains (biological products for internal markets) and exchanges of agricultural products. These preliminary options will require deeper consultations with national PRéRAD-OI partners, governmental and non-governmental institutions and consolidation during 2020. 

The next operational steps include the following activities

  • Establishment and consolidation of the team, including junior experts who will start working by April in La Réunion and by May in Madagascar.
  • Development of a pilot database and information system as part of the Component on “Mapping Family Farming / Sharing the evidence” to display available information on the different types of farms”. 
  • Consultations of the partners will continue early June in Seychelles, La Réunion, Maurice and Madagascar to identify and fine-tune the future activities at the level of each Observatory.
  • Seeking funding for the deployment phase of the observatories in each of the countries, starting in 2021.