Research Key to Food Security

| November 24, 2014 | 0 Comments

Research in agriculture has been hailed as an important milestone for the Southern African region to attain food security.

Speaking on behalf of the Assistant Minister of Agriculture at the launch of agriculture research funding, the private secretary to the minister said innovative approach to agriculture was needed to meet the demands of the region.

On Wednesday, November 19, the Centre for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development for Southern Africa (CCARDESA) awarded grants to different institutions in the region to undertake agricultural research.

CCARDESA is the wing of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and has been formed to replace the Southern African Centre for Cooperation in Agricultural and Natural Resources Research and Training (SACCAR) which ceased to operate in the mid-90s.

Ms Mariam Munimava said agriculture also played an important role as it provided employment especially for the rural communities. “The revitalisation of agriculture is intricately linked with a similar act to unemployment, food security and wealth creation for our peoples,” she said.

She said new approaches to capacitate the vulnerable groups with relevant skills to participate in modern market called for more innovation in research and development institutions.

Ms Munimava said it was important for the private sector to also play a role as a number of entrepreneurs including the youth have been funded through CCARDESA.

“Overcoming challenges related to institutional capacity, land management and water control systems, impaired market access, limited crop diversification, rudiment production techniques, poor food value chains and limited access to credit for farmers are some of the constraints which are known to be affecting agricultural productivity in our countries,” she said.

She said mobilisation of political will and the building of necessary institutions to ensure that the key decisions on investment and policies aimed at eradicating hunger are implemented was often slow but critical process for success.

For her part, the SADC Executive Secretary Dr Stergomena Tax said overall agricultural growth and productivity in the region has remained low calling for urgent implementation of broad-base programmes to reverse the decline. She said despite the diversity, many countries in the region share similar problems and opportunities.

“Therefore it was abundantly clear that cooperation in some of these key areas can yield significant benefits as well as greater economic integration, by taking aantage of natural comparative aantages,” she said.

She said the region has moved towards identifying a common agenda to aance regional development not only in agriculture but in other sectors as well. Funding of the grant was through the assistance of the European Union (EU).

The organisation’s Ambassador to Botswana, Mr Alexander Baum said it was important for EU to offer such assistance as about 70 per cent of the rural population depends on the sector for food, income and employment.

“Agriculture is also a major source of exports in several countries, contributing on average about 13 per cent to total export earnings,” he said.

Mr Baum said despite the potential, the SADC region was hampered by low agricultural productivity which was not keeping up with its ever growing population. The problem, he added was also exacerbated by the negative effects of climate change on food production.

The vice chairperson of CCARDESA Professor Marietta Dlamini said her organisation is tasked with coordinating agricultural research and development in order to promote food security and livelihoods in the SADC region.

Source : BOPA

Source : Botswana Daily News

Category: Business & Finance

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