Minister Boolell meets Agriculture students

March 23, 2007

An interactive session between the Hon. Minister Dr Arvin Boolell and students from the Faculty of Agriculture took place on 8 February 2007 at the RBLT. After the welcoming speeches by the presidents of the Agricultural Society and of the Students’ Union, the Minister shared his aspirations about the Mauritian Agricultural sector. He explained how Mauritius was vulnerable and far from the international market and emphasised a lot on clustering and mobilising strength. He also said that all stakeholders like the public sector, research centres, the Ministry of Agriculture and the University should work together in order to innovate and promote new values.
Students had the opportunity to question the Minister on various topics. The Minister stressed that resources should be used judiciously and declared that an Empowerment Fund should be set up to help new entrepreneurs start a business. He also talked about the role of his Ministry as a facilitator and exposed his views on other issues like the international trends in Agriculture, the emergence and adoption of new technologies, the ‘Dairy Village’ project and the Sea Food Hub.
Prior to the meeting, the Minister visited the University farm and took cognizance of the facilities offered there as well as the difficulties faced by students for practical sessions. A business-oriented approach was suggested by the Minister whereby farm produce could be commercialised with the help of qualified consultants.

I.A. Shanawaz Purdhun
Agriculture Society

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Journées d’animation régionale de l’AUF à l’UoM

March 22, 2007

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Le 29 et le 30 janvier 2007, le réseau ODFLN (Observation du français et des langues nationales) de l’AUF, en partenariat avec l’Ambassade de France et le département de français de l’UoM, a organisé ses dernières Journées d’animation régionale sur le thème : « Appropriation du français et pédagogie convergente dans l’océan Indien : interrogations, applications, propositions… ».

L’ambition principale de ces Journées était d’arriver à définir le cadre opérationnel et méthodologique d’un partenariat linguistique et didactique efficace dans une situation de plurilinguisme régional. Il s’agissait en gros de s’interroger sur l’équilibre à trouver dans l’apprentissage scolaire entre la langue des élèves et celle(s) de l’école quand on se trouve en contexte plurilingue. Le point d’ancrage commun ici était que tous les participants venaient de pays dont le système éducatif fonctionne totalement ou partiellement en français : France, Andorre, Bulgarie, Sénégal, Caméroun, Réunion, Seychelles, Madagascar et Maurice, bien entendu.

L’occasion nous a surtout été donnée d’avoir un aperçu critique de certaines expériences de « pédagogie convergente » déjà tentées dans certains pays d’Afrique et d’Europe et de les confronter avec les réalités linguistiques à l’œuvre dans l’océan Indien. L’étape suivante consistait à proposer à partir de là des pédagogies qui viseraient à faire du plurilinguisme présent dans nos différentes îles des atouts dont l’école pourrait tirer profit plutôt que de handicaps dont les élèves sont trop souvent victimes.

Les problèmes posés par le plurilinguisme étant par essence complexes, il est difficile de résumer de manière synthétique le contenu des différentes interventions, mais l’échange intellectuel autour de la question entre universitaires mauriciens, enrichi de l’apport des chercheurs étrangers et de l’éclairage de quelques spécialistes internationalement reconnus était suffisamment inédit en soi pour mériter qu’on en fasse mention ici.

Arnaud Carpooran
Département de Français, FSSH


Succès en duo

March 22, 2007

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C’est la première fois dans les annales de l’UoM que les deux membres d’un couple d’universitaires se voient élevés au titre de « docteurs » en même temps. Sunil et Shakun Baichoo, tous deux du département d’informatique, ont en effet obtenu leur PhD durant la même cérémonie de remise de diplômes.

Sunil a discouru sur “Robust data compression techniques and source controlled channel coding” s’évertuant, par là, à trouver une technique performante pour la transmission des données sur différentes bandes passantes. Shakun, de son côté, s’est donné comme sujet : “Distributed object computing for multmedia application” en tentant de mettre en place un logiciel pouvant faciliter la construction des systèmes multimédia sur réseau.

Sunil et Shakun se sont connus en Inde – à Ranchi, plus précisément – pendant leurs études de BTech Computer Science & Engineering, et depuis ils ne sont plus quittés. Même à l’Université, où ils travaillent comme chargés de cours en informatique, leurs bureaux sont accolés! Ils sont les heureux parents de Siddharth (8 ans) et Shridar (5 ans). Si pour eux, concilier études, travail et responsabilités parentales n’a pas été chose facile, leur réussite démontre que tout est possible avec de la persévérance.

Lindsay Dhookit
Département d’Informatique, FoE


University Support Network (USN) for SMEs

March 22, 2007

To bridge the University/Industry gap and help SMEs improve their productivity and competitiveness, a University Support Network (USN) is being set up. This will enable entrepreneurs and the community to tap the knowledge, skills and resources available on campus through a dedicated Helpdesk. The USN will focus mainly on the following activities:

1. Support by advice to SMEs on the technical aspects of the business
2. Provision of specialist services available at the University
3. Research and Development (R&D) activities for the benefit of individual SMEs and Clusters.

The support of academic and technical staff will be sought to address the requirements of SMEs in terms of technical advice, development and delivery of customized Continuous Professional Development Programmes, intervention in SMEs, development of new products, and implementation of performance monitoring systems, among others.

Resource persons willing to embark on this venture are invited to contact the undersigned:

Dinesh K Hurreeram
Department of Mechanical & Production Engineering, FoE
Email: dk.hurreeram@uom.ac.mu


Workshop on Strategies for the orientation of the Agri-Food sector in the Indian Ocean

March 22, 2007

The Faculty of Agriculture in collaboration with the École Supérieure d’Ingénieurs en Développement Agroalimentaire Intégré (ESIDAI) of Reunion Island organised a one-day workshop on the 23rd February 2007 at the RBLT, Faculty of Agriculture.

The workshop aimed at bringing together the major stakeholders of the Agri-Food sector in Mauritius to discuss the strategic orientation of this sector in the context of regional trade and globalisation. In spite of a cyclone warning of class 2, some 40 participants attended the workshop. The workshop was led by 2 resource persons from France, namely: Prof G. Ghersi from Paul Valery University, Montpellier 3 and Dr (Mrs) F. Fort, from Montpellier SupAgro. Prof B. Vidal, Director of ESIDAI, also attended the workshop and Dr D.R. Vencatasamy, Dean of Faculty, chaired all the sessions.

Mrs B. Tatayah, Lecturer in Agricultural Economics and Management, of the Department of Agricultural Production and Systems of the Faculty, made a presentation on highlighted the future role the Faculty could play in the new arena of the local and regional agri-food sector, especially as regards training and research. Dr D. Dumur, Director of AREU, Dr K. Heeramun of Enterprise Mauritius and Mr J. C. Monty from the Mauritius Chamber of Agriculture also made interesting and stimulating exposes focused on the possible future trends, in the Mauritian and regional Agri-Food sector, including niche markets for ethnic foods, value-addition along the food supply chain, delocalisation of agricultural production to neighbouring countries such as Madagascar and Mozambique.

The various participants made valuable suggestions during the workgroup sessions which addressed the animal-based and plant-based subsectors in the agri-food sector. The strengths and weaknesses of various areas of potential growth in the Mauritian Agri-Food sector were explored, and the main courses of actions for developing these sectors were discussed. In the end, Prof G. Ghersi also presented a possible framework through which these ideas and suggestions could be synthesised so as to come up with a holistic development plan for these various subsectors.

D. Goburdhun,
Department of Agriculture & Food Science, FoA


Road Safety: A Public Concern

March 22, 2007

The Multidisciplinary Centre of Excellence (MCE) Transport organised a Forum on Road Safety on 6 April 2006. The main panelists were from the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Land Transport & Shipping, the Police Force, and the Institute for Consumer Protection (ICP). Mr D Nathoo from the Traffic Management and Road Safety Unit (TMRSU) presented the perspectives of Road Safety in Mauritius. One major observation made was that pedestrians are over-represented in fatal accidents in Mauritius. Consequently, the TMRSU has come up with an action plan on three fronts: Engineering, Education and Enforcement. The aim of the action plan is to reduce the annual number of road casualties and injuries by one third by the end of year 2010.

Mr Krishna Nair (ICP) stressed on the abuse of alcohol by drivers and their non-compliance with the Road Safety Code. The following measures were proposed: improvement of pavements, judicial use of speed breakers and pedestrian zones, proper management of road signs, awareness campaigns in schools and work places as well as application of more stringent measures in issuing driving licenses.

Chief inspector Ben Buntipilly from the Police Force enumerated the responsibilities of the Traffic Branch: Traffic regulation, issue and control of all driving licenses, management of a database on previous court orders regarding driving licenses and road accidents, and management of driving schools and instructors. Moreover, public education is carried out through the delivery of lectures at schools, village halls and social welfare centres.

A number of measures were eventually proposed in the discussion part of the forum, details of which can be found on the MCE website: http://www.uom.ac.mu/mce/mcetransport/

Forthcoming event: Global Road Safety campaign, 23-29 April 2007, organized by the United Nations.

N. Sookia
Department of Mathematics, FoS


Land Management Courses

March 22, 2007

As part of an UNDP/GEF/FAO/GoM-funded project on National Capacity Building for Sustainable Land Management, the Faculty of Agriculture has obtained funding to the tune of Rs 1.37 million to mount and run 4 training courses, two of which are designed for Mauritian participants while the other two are specifically for Rodrigues.

The courses will cover diverse aspects of sustainable land management, including management of open pastures, sustainable agricultural practices, GIS/LIS and remote sensing.

The courses will be run on a part-time basis for free over a period of 4 weeks. Resource persons will be from the Faculty of Agriculture, the Faculty of Engineering, the National Remote Sensing Centre, and the Agricultural Research & Extension Unit (AREU) of the Ministry of Agro-industries and Fisheries.

B. Lalljee
Department of Agriculture & Food Science, FoA