Thursday, April 30, 2015

Should the State Buy the Tamarin Salt Pans?

Because Mauritians have a strong emotional connection with them? Maybe. We have to decide how much we want these 40 or so acres to keep on eliciting those special feelings in us. Each time we see them. Maybe 10 acres are enough to keep our souls happy. Maybe not. Just like we have to reflect on the quality of the decision to use so much coal on an island with one of the world's best air quality. Not very smart for the poster child of sustainability, eh? It's like running a central bank like a tabazi. While the owners of the salt pans have every right to find ways of optimising their assets we have to realise that in Mauritius our land use is not exactly world-beating. Maybe we got carried away with the toxic mantra of 'grot' at all costs?

It's never too late to do good though. Let's immediately liberalise the importation of sugar to help make it easier for us as a country to preserve important parts of our souls. We've been there before with La Vallee de Ferney. 10 years ago. Let's do it again!

8 comments:

akagugo said...

We are a young nation, and we are in a dire need for cultural landmarks instead of the sprawling concrete jungle. Just look at the pavements of Port Louis - the century-old basalt blocks which are a testimony of the skill of Mauritian tradesmen - which are being looted away... These salt pans may be of dwindling net worth by current standards, but in the history of Mauritius, we still teach our schoolchildren that Black River is reputed for its dry climate conducive for evaporating sea water for producing iodine-rich sea salt... Remove this, and Tamarin will be just one more concrete jungle like Flic-en-Flac, albeit more luxurious probably.
And I hear that the locally produced salt will be replaced with an imported one which is mined from Chinese mountains, and which, as far as I know, have low iodine content conducive to cretinism...

Sanjay Jagatsingh said...

I have to confess that when I buy salt I always look if it's from the Tamarin salt pans. And when I see that's written on the pack pleasant images of our salt pans get conjured up immediately. And each time I use the salt I am consciously aware of using it. Not because it's from Mauritius. But because it's so good and tasty.

And now you are telling us about its high iodine content. Truth be told I have also tried one salt from China -- when I couldn't find the local one -- and didn't like it.

Don't we have enough cretins around?

akagugo said...

Devlopma promoters must remember that all of today's brown fields were once built from rosy dreams like theirs...

Anonymous said...

We have been using imported salt (much cheaper), since long. Even the mauritian refiners bring the salt and refine it in Mauritius. There are special varieties that come from the himalayas (pinkish salt) and others with greater virtues that are not imported because we think that we should protect local industries even if they are lost making! We may have some 'pincement au coeur' but economics will prevail. Why should the state (us) pay to preserve the saltpans? Will mauritians accept to pay the salt at a more expensive rate to subsidise our saltpans or accept to pay to visit the saltpans? By extension the sugarcane fields will disappear unless we start to produce special sugars or rhum 'agricole' in much bigger quantities.

Sanjay Jagatsingh said...

Economics cannot and shouldn't prevail everywhere. Besides I don't think we should lose the tamarin salt pans this early (which only represent 0.03% of the area under sugar cane). Which is why we should encourage importation of sugar so we do other things with the land devoted to it. Like putting the skills of so many unemployed graduates to work for the benefit of us all.

Also, the tamarin salt pans have brand equity. Doesn't look like it's been used to the max. Which would help justify a higher price for the salt. Or at least some versions of it. Also can't the issues with the food act be dealt with?

Here is a clip about how people are reacting to the issue.

Sanjay Jagatsingh said...

Omnicane is importing 42,000 tons of sugar for its refinery. STC should too just like it did for basmati so our poor land use is improved. And we can increase corporate and top individual tax rates to help the relatively few workers who might lose their jobs.

Sanjay Jagatsingh said...

If we can import red meat to keep prices reasonable we can surely import sugar to end up with a land use that makes a lot more sense.

Anonymous said...

Last time I was in Mauritius, imported sugar from Thailand was cheaper at the supermarket ...