The “DOM” is composed of ‘Departments Guadeloupe, Martinique, Guyane and Réunion. As the Departments are islands, in order to approach food autonomy they need to develop their agriculture and fishing, implement structured fields, and encourage the consumption of local products. All of these enable the territories to create economic activity and jobs. Furthermore, it allows the inhabitants to be less dependent on food imports.

©Min.Agri.Fr

©Min.Agri.Fr

Nearly 25,000  farms exist in the French Overseas Departments and Territories (2010), and they represent 5 percent of the total number of French farms. Moreover, the 124,689 hectares (ha) of harvested area in the DOM counts for 0.46 percent of the total harvested area  in France. From this information we can deduce that the DOM have smaller farms than in metropolitan France (5 ha in average against 55 ha). Agriculture employs 34,200 people in Martinique, Guadeloupe, Guyane and Réunion as a whole. The total agricultural production can be estimated as more than 1 billion euros per year, with Réunion being the most productive country thanks to its sugar cane. 25 percent of the total area of Martinique and Guadeloupe is harvested while harvested land accounts for 19 percent of Réunion and 0.3 percent  of Guyane. These numbers illustrate just how important agriculture is to these French Departments. In fact, the number of jobs in the field of producing and transforming agriculture is more important in the DOM than in metropolitan France.
The overseas Departments allow a much broader reach for French presence in trade throughout the world.

What are the main products cultivated?

Agriculture in the French Overseas Departments is very diverse. The main products, however, remain sugar cane (30 percent) and bananas (21 percent). There are also a large number of animal farms with some 144,000 cattle, 54,000 goats and 120,000 pigs among all the Departments.

Flickr

Flickr

Biodiversity and Sustainable Development in the DOM

Enjoying extraordinary biodiversity, the natural spaces in the Overseas Departments remain fragile environments that are sometimes threatened and need to be protected. Luckily, the Departments are willing to shift toward a sustainable agricultural model. Many banana fields, for example, have greatly reduced their use of pesticides in recent years. In Guyane, which is the biggest French Department and the most heavily forested (96 percent of total area remains primary Amazonian forest), the biodiversity is exceptional and well conserved. This biodiversity remains an important asset for the inhabitants: 60 to 80 percent of locals use Amazonian plants on a daily basis for purposes such as medication.

Focus on Sugar Cane and Energy Fields

La Réunion is the biggest producer of sugar cane of all the departments with {{6 to 10 ha }} of harvest area and almost 2 tons of sugar cane  harvested (2009).

©Min.Agri.Fr

Sugar cane field in Réunion
©Min.Agri.Fr

Statistics on Sugar Cane Production in La Réunion:

4,000 sugar cane producers
12,000 jobs, direct and indirect
2 sugar factories
70 percent of the exports of the island
1st European producer of the sugar cane

Cultivated throughout the world, sugar cane produces three quarters of the total amount of all sugar production worldwide. Sugar cane is the principal crop in La Réunion where it has forged the Department’s history and economy and remains a pillar of La Réunion’s agriculture.

Transformation of the Sugar Cane:  Rum Still on the Rocks

Martinique, Guadeloupe, Réunion and Guyane transform sugar cane into rum. In Reunion, 3 factories produce industrial rum while in Martinique, 60% of the harvested sugar cane goes to the production of {rhum agricole}. In Guadeloupe, rhum agricole’s production represents 40% of the total rum production.

The rhum agricole method is the most expensive of all rum production processes. It takes place during the spring harvest and begins with the usage of pure sugar cane juice. The rum produced through the rhum agricole method represents only 3 percent of the world’s rum. The Martinique’s rhum agricole has received the coveted Appellation d’Origine Controlee  AOC designation.

To learn more :

Les Agricultures d’outre-mer
Diversity and Quality Symbols: The Agricultural Roots that make French Cuisine so Special