"Ensure sustainable practices for the use and conservation of medicinal plants". This is the title of the project that was presented back to back with World Environment Day, June 7, at Keats College (KC) Chemin Grenier in the south of Mauritius.
An initiative of l’Association pour l’éducation des enfants défavorisés (APEDED), this project is co-funded by the European Union (EU) through the Biodiversity Programme of the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC).
Following a regional call for proposals launched by the Biodiversity Programme in 2015, this project benefits from a grant of 90 000 EUR.
This 18-month pilot project is being implemented in 10 schools and colleges in the Republic of Mauritius, 2 of which in Rodrigues.
The launching ceremony was honored by the presence of Mr. Gonçalo Leitao, Cooperation Attaché at the EU Delegation in Mauritius, Mr. Tony Wong Ah Sui, Rector of the KC, Mr. Hassanali Aboubacar Tayffa, Call for proposals Expert to IOC Biodiversity Programme, Mrs. Anooradah Pooran, Founder of APEDED, Mr. Paramasiva (Dana) Chengan, Chair of MACOSS, and Dr. Yaswaree Mihilall, Head of the Agriculture Department at KC.
"By passing this knowledge on to our youngsters, we are not only showing them how to become an entrepreneur, but we also teach them how to be environmentally responsible," said Dr. Yaswaree Mihilall, who manages the project at KC.
« The project aims to develop medicinal plant gardens in schools so as to address the conservation of medicinal plants and ensure use of medicinal plants in our day to day life for better health” explained Mrs Anooradah Pooran, adding that the project will create awareness amongst students, their families and friends, encouraging to extend this practice at home.
A book detailing the characteristics of the medicinal plants present in the industry will be produced by the young people themselves. In addition, an inter-establishment competition for the best medicinal garden is underway. In total, the project will involve around 3000 students and 250 teachers and school staff.
The project is also a fundraising opportunity for stakeholder institutions. The sale of plants of nurseries to potential producers is an income-generating activity.
"Preserving biodiversity should not be considered a constraint," said the IOC representative, adding, "The Biodiversity Programme aims the sustainable use of biodiversity resources. The challenge is to benefit and make more profits from this biodiversity through a better conservation. This project managed by APEDED fits well within this framework ".
However, in order to sustain such a project, ownership is needed as well as technical and financial capacities. "Building the project on children is a guarantee for the sustainability of the project," said Hassanali Aboubacar Tayffa.
"We all have dreams. Fight for your dreams without forgetting the nature that surrounds us. If we succeed in making our dreams a reality without damaging the environment, we will have a better life, "concluded the EU representative.
The ceremony was followed by a visit to the Keats College Medicinal Plant Garden where a commemorative plaque was inaugurated.