Catholic Bishops’ Commission in Mauritius Presents Community Garden Project, Urges Support

Fr. Jean Maurice Labour. Credit: Courtesy Photo

Officials of the Catholic Bishops’ Commission for Justice and Peace (CJP) in Mauritius have presented a project that seeks to alleviate poverty and misery among the population through community gardens.

In a statement issued Wednesday, May 11, officials of the Catholic Bishops’ entity who call on the government to support the initiative highlight a project carried out by the CJP of the Diocese of Port-Louis to help the poorest people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic “but which, for unknown reasons, has not been supported by the authorities concerned.”

“For the past three years, under the inspiration of Pope Francis' Encyclical on Ecology, CJP has been engaged in a project of education on good ecological practices,” they say.

CJP officials add, “The COVID-19 pandemic forced us to live in various forms of food self-sufficiency. Many families have gone back to farming by growing small gardens in their backyards. Many have lost their jobs with the closure of companies or their reduction of activity.”

Through the Community Garden initiative, CJP leadership intends “to bring together in one project three critical issues that the COVID-19 crisis has come to highlight,” the officials say, and highlight the three issues as to “reduce unemployment, assure food security, and protect the environment”.


“Our project intends to provide employment to people who, because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing economic crisis, have lost their jobs,” CJP officials reiterate.

In their May 11 statement signed by CJP President, Fr. Jean Maurice Labour, the officials of the Catholic entity in Mauritius underscore the challenge of food security, including its production and distribution. 

They say, “Food security, a global issue, also threatens our country. The production and distribution chain of basic foodstuffs is now at high risk and Mauritius is largely dependent on imported foodstuffs such as rice, flour, fruits and even vegetables. So, this is not a temporary food crisis: it will last because it is systemic.”

“The hunger crisis easily leads to riots, even crimes, leading to permanent social instability.,” CJP officials in Mauritius say, and add, “Recent news shows acts of theft with violence linked to food production. Prices are rising and the poorest people are paying a high price for undernourishment that puts their immune systems at risk.”

They continue in reference to their Community Garden initiative, “We felt that it was urgent to make our contribution in the creation of a true culture of food security in Mauritius, ideally waiting for self-sufficiency.”

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The Catholic Church officials further say, “With this in mind, the Diocese has proposed to all Parishes to dedicate their available land to the planting of local vegetables and fruits. It was also for the Parishes to give a concrete form of solidarity towards the poorest.”

Since then, CJP officials say, “The hands of Priests are not only blessings: they are already working in farms in many parishes. Today we have 17 plots of land in 12 Parishes with the hope of giving work to fathers and mothers.”

“In Tranquebar, a Parish plot has been identified to help a dozen women in need. CJP submitted a file to the COVID-19 Solidarity Fund in May 2020 for the Tranquebar Community Garden,” officials of the Catholic entity in the Indian Ocean Island nation further say. 

One year one, they say, “we received a reply saying that an officer from FAREI - an organization under the Ministry of Agriculture - would come and make a site visit.”

“This was done in Tranquebar, to the satisfaction of the officer with the site and the project,” they add, and regret the fact that they “never received any reply from the NSIF”.


In the statement signed by CJP President, the leadership says, “After several months, I had to contact Mr. Raj Makoond, chairman of the COVID-19 Solidarity Fund, to finally receive an email saying that the project was not approved, without any explanation.”

“My requests for explanations have remained unanswered until today,” the leadership of the Catholic entity says, adding, “We would have expected the COVID-19 Solidarity Fund to accompany us to modify our project to better correspond to their criteria.”

The officials invite the relevant authorities in Mauritius to “walk this path with us in order to bring concrete solutions to the distress of the families that have expressed themselves.”

“The COVID-19 Solidarity Fund was established as an opening for such projects. Let actions follow announcements,” CJP officials in Mauritius say in their May 11 statement, and implore, “Let us cultivate these gardens of hope.”

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.