Agriculture and farming are the very foundation of our group. Sugar cane was first grown by Martial Henri René Noël, the founder of ENL, nearly two centuries ago, in 1821. Mon Désert, the estate he started, now forms part of the 16 000 acres owned by the group in the centre and the south of the island.
The vast majority of ENL’s land resources are still under agricultural use. Production remains dominated by sugar cane which is cultivated on some 12 000 acres. We currently harvest an average of 350 000 tons of cane each year, with about 28 700 tons of sugar accruing to us.
We have been successfully modernising our business model for the past decade. This has been a prerequisite for long-term sustainability given the significant changes occurring in the rules governing the export of Mauritian sugar. We have thus disinvested from milling activities and improved efficiency through mechanisation and irrigation. We have also reduced our wage bill and aligned our manpower requirements with the seasonal nature of our business.
With time, this strategy to reduce operational costs has enabled us to draw real benefits from improvements in market conditions for sugar. In parallel, we have stepped up efforts to develop new revenue centres.
We ventured in the services sector in 2006, when we incorporated ESP Landscapers to offer a complete range of landscaping services. The company has grown rapidly to become a market leader and has in turn boosted our production of ornamental plants. In 2011, we opened a retail outlet targeting the general public. We recently created Sygeco which draws from our pool of highly trained and experienced human resource to provide residential and office estate management and maintenance services.
We have also adopted a more modern and professional approach to the production of fruits and vegetables. We have invested in a state-of-the-art packaging facility and developed the Field Good brand to market choice products, grown in the strictly controlled environment of green houses. All the while, we have maintained our traditional lines of production which include tropical flowers grown for exports.
Similar efforts have been invested in farming activities. We are currently expanding our chicken production capacity and experimenting with beef production in Savinia.