In the throes of a major drought, SADC Ministers approves the Agriculture Investment Plan
‘’*Will this save small farmers from food shortage?
SADC Ministers of Agriculture have approved the Regional Agricultural Investment Plan.
The plan will go along way to enhance agricultural production, productivity and competitiveness, as well as improve regional and international trade and access to markets, noted a statement issued by SADC.
The plan is in line with the SADC Regional Agriculture Policy (RAP) and the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development program (CAADP), and will also strengthen the response plans for Member States and build resilience to address chronic food insecurity say the SADC Press statement.
According to the statement issues by the SADC Secretariat recently, Ministers recommended to Council the creation of a Ministerial Sub-Committee to oversee the implementation of the Regional Agricultural Investment Plan.
The meeting was officially opened by the His Excellency the Right Honourable Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Swaziland, Dr. Barnabas SibusisoDlamini. The premier highlighted the importance of agriculture as a source of food, income and employment.
He indicated that agriculture is central to our culture and economies. He noted the progress made in the sector and commended the Region for finalising the Revised Regional Indicative Development Plan and the Industrialisation Strategy which are pivotal to transforming the economies of the Region and poverty reduction.
He noted the region was experiencing the devastating impacts of the El Ninõ, thus it was paramount for the ministers to be open minded and come up with solutions .
The ministers present from 10 SADC countries underscored the importance of improving agricultural production. They observed El Nino in 2015/16has caused severe drought in the region. The Regional Vulnerability Assessment indicates a 9.3 million tonnes cereal deficit and 40 million people at risk of food insecurity in the Region. The region is currently importing cereals to offset the shortfall.
Ministers supported the declaring of a Regional Disaster and the launching of the Humanitarian Appeal for a funding gap of US$ 2.4 billion to cover the humanitarian needs for about 40 million people in the region.
Ministers reviewed progress in the implementation of programs and governance of the Centre for Coordination of Agriculture Research Development for Southern Africa (CCARDESA), a subsidiary organisation of SADC, which was established to improve production and productivity of farmers in the Region through generation and dissemination of appropriate research technologies. Ministers approved several amendments to the Charter governing CCARDESA to enhance its operations.
SADC Member States agriculture ministers at the meeting included Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Namibia, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Mozambique and South Africa were represented by their High Commissioners accredited to the Kingdom of Swaziland. Also in attendance were the Sub Regional Coordinator for Southern Africa of UN Food Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the Vice Chairperson of Centre for Coordination of Agriculture Research Development for Southern Africa (CARDESA) Board, and the Director for Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources (FANR) representing the Executive Secretary.