Vita Rice: Rice Harvest in Mauritius

May 25, 2012

Defi Media
Shaffick Hamuth

Rice Harvest in Mauritius – A Dream Come True

The rice adventure begins. Three years after setting a rice farming project in the South East of Mauritius, Vita Rice is now harvesting its first crop. A yield of about 1,000 to 1,200 tons is expected.

Seven rice-harvesting machines were in full swing on Monday over the vast rice fields at Cluny. Vita Grain, the Singapore-based group decided to prospect Mauritius back in 2008, when the world food crisis was at its peak. It has succeeded, through its two subsidiaries in Mauritius, Vita Rice Limited and Green Island Rice Limited, to produce premium low glycemic index rice for domestic consumption and for export.

The group currently cultivates about 330 hectares of land leased by Rose Belle Sugar Estate, and plans to add another 170 hectares to this. It also intends to promote rice farming among farmers who have abandoned sugar cane plantations by providing technical assistance and a guaranteed rice purchase price through its Rice Outgrower Scheme to cover about 2,000 hectares.

Farmers and agricultural cooperatives present at the harvest opening ceremony on Monday showed a been interest in this new venture which is a viable alternative to declining sugar prices. Agricultural Minister Satish Faugoo and Foreign Affairs Minister Arvin Boolell were also present. Rice cultivation is in line with the objective of the government to increase our food security by reducing our dependence on imports. It is expected that Mauritius will produce one-third of its rice needs by 2014, as well as export to Singapore.

Harris Ramphul, Liasion Officer, told News on Sunday that the rice project has now reached a critical phase, with the harvest and subsequent processing before the rice gets ready to hit the market around August 2012. He explained that about twenty-five varieties of rice were tested in Mauritius and the best three were retained, given their adaptability to our soil and climate.

Rice cultivation is best in the South or the East. The project has materialised thanks to the support of various institutions, including the Bank of Investment, the State Investment Corporation, the Food and Agricultural Research Council and the Mauritius Sugar Industry Research Institute.

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Vita Rice: Singapore firms eye Mauritius potential

June 8, 2011

Straits Times
Li Xueying

First-ever visit by Singapore business delegation to explore opportunities in island nation.

There is a rice farm just north of the airport in Mauritius with Singapore’s name on it.

Opened in 2009 and spread over 500ha, Vita Rice is the island nation’s largest agriculture development outside the production of its traditional mainstay – sugarcane.

Vita Rice’s boss Graeme Robertson is aware of the irony of Singapore company growing rice in Mauritius. He told The Straits Time: “Singapore does not have rice farming skills. But is does have the engineering, administrative, marketing and financial skills without which the farming is unlikely to proceed on a commercial basis”.

His Singapore-based private equity firm, Intrasia Capital, is the project’s major shareholder, along with the Mauritian Government. It has big plans: to provide one-third of Mauritius rice needs by 2014, as well as export to Singapore. Like Singapore, the nation of 1.3 million people imports all its rice – some 75,000 tonnes a year.

There is also a chance of Crocodile polo shirts making a splash in this sunny isle. The Singapore clothing label is in town to sass out the market for its apparel. Said assistant General Manager Lim Keng Boon: “Though the population is small, it has attractive incentives for investors and it seems Mauritius is a favourable place for tax planning in respect to venturing into India and African countries”

He is also looking for a factory in this country, which is known for its textile industry. Crocodile currently makes its apparel in China, Thailand and Indonesia but costs there is rising, he said.

This first-ever visit by a Singapore business delegation has generated substantial interest: 24 companies signed up for the trip with the Singapore Business Federation (SBF).

Some, like Intrasia have already dipped their toes into Mauritius waters. But most, such as Crocodile, are exploring options.

Their presence here is in conjunction with President S R Nathan’s state visit. Today, he will witness the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the SBF and the Mauritius Board of Investment to enhance business ties. Last year, Singapore investments here totaled US$15.1 billion (S$18.6 billion), although much is ultimately channeled to India.

There is a potential for more, said SBF Chairman Tony Chew, who added that Mauritius was “a promising business hub” with remarkable similarities to Singapore. It has political stability, a pro-business environment, good infrastructure, a robust banking system and treaties that grant companies residing here preferential trade and investment benefits with Africa and beyond, he said.

As more adventurous Singapore firms look beyond traditional markets to place like Africa, Mauritius – just off the continent – is a good starting point. Exports from Africa to Asia have tripled in the past five years, noted Standard Chartered Bank’s regional Chief Executive for Singapore and South-East Asia, Mr. Ray Ferguson. Mauritius with membership of trade and political groupings like the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, offers companies “preferential” access to a market of 380 million consumers, representing an import potential of US$90 billion”.

With its eye on this pie, spice company Nomanbhoy and Sons is exploring the feasibility of a logistics handling and transport facility here for spices sourced from Madagascar, Comoros, Zanzibar and other islands. It is also considering establishing an essential oils extraction plant.

But there are challenges too, said Mr. Chew. One is the small domestic market. Firms may need to explore an export strategy to gain economies of scale. “The small population also means that certain industries, such as labour intensive ones, will need to depend heavily on imported manpower” Mr. Chew added.

More also needs to be done to the infrastructure. The road network, for instance, is in need of expansion. Still companies like Intrasia have their sights on the longer-term horizon. A combination of government support, land availability and an excellent financial regime was why it chose Mauritius to further its rice-growing ambitions.

Also, as Mr. Robertson noted, “it is Africa that is the fastest-growing rice consumer in today’s world”.

Vita Rice: La riziculture à des fins médicales à Maurice

April 29, 2010

La riziculture à des fins médicales à Maurice
Le Matinal

Faire de la médecine avec le riz, un pari impossible? On disait la même chose de la cultivation du riz a Maurice et, contre toute attente, on trouve aujourd’hui des pousses de riz qui se dressent fièrement sur 57 hectares a Cluny, Rose-Belle, alors que 110 hectares sont déjà en préparation pour les nouvelles semences.

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Vita Rice: Success storiz

March 28, 2010

Vita Rice: Success storiz
L’express

Initialement intéressé à ne produire que de la semence de riz hybride, Graeme Robertson envisage de lancer une véritable industrie de production de riz pour le marché local et étranger.

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Mauritius to set up Food Security Development Centre

April 16, 2009

Mauritius to set up Food Security Development Centre

Mauritius is launching a Food Security Development Centre, whose aim is to focus on hybrid rice seed development with better yield and improved nutrition quality, disease remittance and varieties adaptable to climate change, official sources said here.

In this regard, the Mauritius Sugar Industry Research Institute, the Food and Agricultural Research Council and the Agricultural Research and Extension Unit have signed a memorandum of understanding with a Singapore-based company, Vita Grain Pte Ltd, that aims at producing new high yielding hybrid rice lines in Mauritius.

“We have introduced 22 rice genotypes comprising three hybrids and 15 pure lines,” the CEO of Vita Grain, Graeme Lance Robertson, said.

According to Robertson, these rice varieties, sown in Mauritius, have germinated well and are showing vigorous growth.

The promising varieties, Robertson noted, will be exploited on a larger scale.

To that effect, about 1,000 hectares of land are being put at the disposal of this enterprise at Rose-Belle, in the south of the Island, for the production of hybrid rice seeds this year.

Rice is the most important staple food in Mauritius, with an average import of about 64,000 tonnes annually.

The product has been cultivated on very small scale at various periods but the interest in rice production decreased with the rise in the price of sugar in 1973/74, thus making rice production less attractive.

Vitagrain signs 2nd MOA with Mauritian authorities for 500 ha of land

March 24, 2009

Vitagrain signs 2nd MOA with Mauritian authorities for 500 ha of land

A Memorandum of Agreement was signed this morning between Vita Grain Pte Ltd and Rose Belle Sugar Estate for the setting up of a hybrid rice seed industry in Mauritius. The ceremony took place in presence of the Minister of Agro Industry, Food Production and Security, Mr. Satish Faugoo.

Through this Agreement 500 hectares of land will be released by the Rose Belle Sugar Estate for the development of a hybrid rice seed industry in Mauritius. The Singapore based company Vita Grain Pte Ltd possesses innovative knowledge and expertise for the cultivation of non-hybrid and hybrid rice seed with specialised traits such as low glycemic index hybrid cereal. It uses advanced growing techniques so as to promote the improvement of nutrition and food security in both developing and developed countries.

Some 1 000 hectares are required for the implementation of this project which will also take on board small holders in the future. Mauritius has been opted by the Vita Company for various reasons such as its economic and political stability, its pest and disease free environment and its strategic location.

The Agreement is the second one signed between Vita Grain Group and Mauritian authorities. The first one was signed for the setting up of a hybrid seed rice production centre which involves the Mauritius Sugar Industry Research Institute (MSIRI) and the Agricultural Research Extension Unit (AREU). The creation of this centre in Mauritius will enable these Institutes to further develop research and study into hybrid rice lines and other food crops, thus positioning our country as a regional powerhouse for hybrid seed research in the future.

Hybrid Rice to be grown in Mauritius

March 4, 2009

Hybrid Rice to be grown in Mauritius
- Le Matinal

A project for the growing of hybrid rice will soon be launched Mauritius with the concerted effort of the Mauritius Sugar Research Industry Institute (MSIRI), the Food and Agricultural Research Council (FARC) and Singapore-based company, Vita Grain Pte Ltd.

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Vitagrain signs MOA with Government of Mauritius to set up hybrid seed centre

March 4, 2009

Vitagrain signs MOA with Government of Mauritius to set up hybrid seed centre
Government Information Service, Mauritius

The project of setting up a hybrid seed rice production centre will enable Mauritius to ensure its own food security and production in rice the minister of Agro Industry, Food Production and Security, Mr. Satish Faugoo, said yesterday during the signing ceremony of a Memorandum of Agreement for the setting up of a hybrid seed rice production centre in Mauritius.

The Agreement relating to the production of hybrid seed rice production in Mauritius involves VITA Grain Pte Ltd, a Singapore based company, the Mauritius Sugar Industry Research Institute (MSIRI) and the Agricultural Research Extension Unit (AREU). This project which is estimated to the tune of $ 30 million aims at introducing parental lines for the production of around 15 hybrid rice varieties, while taking on board small planters and small holders in a view to diversify crop production.

The company VITA Grain possesses innovative knowledge and expertise for the cultivation of non-hybrid and hybrid rice seed with specialised traits such as low glycemic index hybrid cereal. It uses advanced growing techniques so as to promote the improvement of nutrition and food security in both developing and developed countries.

The creation of such a centre in Mauritius will enable the MSIRI and AREU to further develop research and study into hybrid rice lines and other food crops, thus positioning our country as a regional powerhouse for hybrid seed research in the future.