ECLIPSE World : Portrait of the Reunionese Association of Pastoralism (ARP)

The Reunionese Association of Pastoralism (ARP) is an agricultural advisory and development organisation that assists cattle, sheep, goat and horse farmers in managing their forage systems, from the establishment of grasslands to the final use of the forage produced. It assists farms with their land and pastoral development projects, advises farmers on the design and day-to-day management of their forage system and provides expertise on the quality of the forage produced and its value.

zebu moka breeder © E. Le Merlus, Cirad

Zebu moka breeder © E. Le Merlus, Cirad

Since its creation, ARP has been working closely with Reunionese agricultural cooperatives (FRCA, SICALAIT, SICAREVIA, OVICAP, URCOOPA), agricultural development organisations (Chamber of Agriculture, GDS), the interprofessional organisation (ARIBEV) and research institutes (CIRAD, INRA) to develop fodder production on Reunion's livestock farms and, at the end, their technical and economic results. To this end, the association has been deeply involved in the design of animal and plant diversification programs such as the French RITA Animal, which has been operational since July 2015, and coordinates the "fodder and feed" actions. The association is partly financed by Europe, the French Office for the Development of the Agricultural Economy and the Departmental Council of Reunion Island for its consulting, project management, expertise and experimentation missions.

in the ECLIPSE project, ARP is collaborating with CIRAD, in setting up a grass growth monitoring system on Réunion Island. For the past ten years, agricultural consultants have noted a stagnation in forage yields, which are well below potential. Regular forage shortages have also been observed, particularly during the dry season, which have been accentuated over the last five years by episodes of drought, which in turn have required the import of forage by the sectors. One of the main causes of these seasonal fodder shortages seems to be a failure to optimise grazing cycles and a lack of anticipation on the part of farmers in managing fodder stocks. This is partly linked to the lack of knowledge about the growth dynamics of grassland cover over the course of the year in the island's various forage micro regions.

The implementation of such a monitoring system requires certain methodological developments before it can be operational and produce indicators that will enable real-time optimisation of the management of forage plots. This methodological work was initiated during the first steps of the project and will be continued, with the establishment of a reference system on grass density and its variation factors (species, season, area).