FARMERS in the Sadc region have appealed to their governments for funds and friendly policies to resuscitate agriculture amid revelations that all African countries only produce about 4% annually.
By Nokuthaba Dlamini
Delegates to the Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (Sacau) conference which ended yesterday in Victoria Falls called for a change in attitude, understanding of markets, both formal and informal, and the establishment of vocational institutions to empower youths and women mainly in rural areas.
Namibia National Farmers’ Union (NNFU) executive director, Mwilima Mushokabanji, told the meeting that studies revealed that population would grow against a decline in agriculture due to climate change by 2050
“We have the sustainable development goal that we have to achieve as a global community and key among this is the alleviation of poverty everywhere in the world and to improve food and nutritional security. If you look at the continent right now, the global population is 7 billion and projections are showing that by 2050 the global population would’ve marched to 9 billion, so the extra 2 billion would be extra mouths,” he said.
“These are going to be residents from the developing world including Africa, but now when you look at the impact of climate change, predictions show that there is going to be reduction in the production of food by about 60%.
He said agriculture will not contribute to gross domestic product and with over 70% of Africa’s population residing in rural areas, most households would be food insecure and unemployment levels would spike
“We need an alternative narrative on how we should address this under the comprehensive Africa agricultural development programme, the declaration key of 2003 and 2014 was for public sector to invest not less than 10% in agriculture. African governments have not been doing that, especially in the Sadc region according to the biannual review that African Union released three weeks ago in Gabon and that has led to that 4% annual result.”
It was revealed that out of the 4% South Africa, Kenya and Egypt were the key players, while the rest shared about 1%.
Another said by empowering farmers, issues of rural-urban migration would be controlled.
Zambian Trade Union consultant, Mark Pearson, said the challenge was that Africa had a dependency syndrome.
“The challenge is that Africa doesn’t feed itself. We import a lot of grains and all of these things are things which we grow ourselves and that places constraints on trade issues and sometimes production issues. We need to have agricultural policies which support production and the challenge is that it’s a very risky business in terms of what the market is going to be like in the next season because of climate change. Policies include government funding, reduction of taxes, delays at the border and corruption and bribery law enforcement demands when one is on transit…” he said.