SOUTH AFRICA: 2014 Year of Agriculture and Food Security

2014 Year of Agriculture and Food Security, Marking the 10th Anniversary of the Adoption of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture and Development Programme (CAADP) – South African perspectives

By H.E. Ambassador Mandisa Marasha

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When the African Heads of State and Government decided to declare 2014 as the Year of Agriculture and Food Security in Africa, it was obviously done as a clear recognition of how important these issues are to the African continent.

It would be recalled that the first goal set by World Leaders in the year 2000 when they adopted the Millennium Development Goals was to Eradicate Poverty and Hunger. The decision in 2003 by Africa leaders to adopt the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture and Development Programme (CAADP) should then be seen as a deliberate action by African leaders to address MDG1, while making sure the Continent progresses in terms of its own agricultural development.

Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the CAADP during this year is therefore important and correct as to give recognition to Africa’s own initiatives to boost agricultural productivity. CAADP also aims to curb Africa’s dependency on food imports, while striving to develop our own agriculture and markets. Celebrating a programme like CAADP then provides further recognition that Africa is indeed part of the solution to address the current global economic challenges.

Although much progress have been made globally to reach MDG1, food security and nutrition remains an important global challenge for developing countries, especially for Africa, as many people continue to suffer from hunger and malnutrition. According to the United Nations Food and Agricultural organisation, globally, about 842 million people (which is 12% of the world’s population) are estimated to be undernourished and more than 100 million children under age five are still undernourished and underweight.

Recognizing these challenges, South Africa has introduced the “Zero Hunger Programme” (ZHP) with the objectives to:

  • ensure  access to food  by the poor and vulnerable members of our society;
  • Improve food production capacity of resource poor farmers;
  • Improve nutrition security of the citizens;
  • Develop market channels through bulk government and private sector procurement of food linked to the emerging agricultural sector, and
  • Fostering partnerships with relevant stakeholders within the food supply chain.

Given South Africa’s divided racial past, the ZHP is part of our processes to attain a socially transformed and equitable agricultural sector, while at the same time increasing production and competitiveness to ensure profitability, as well as to ensure the sustainable use of natural resources. Indeed, the Zero Hunger Plan is in itself an agri-business model designed to specifically address the food insecurity challenges through the development and economic emancipation of the country’s smallholder agricultural sector. Through this model, challenges of productivity, technology, skills, and job creation will be addressed.

The Zero Hunger Programme combines short‐term responses to emergency situations with medium‐ and long‐term responses that help create the necessary conditions for families to guarantee their own food security. Moreover, the Plan recognized that the needs of people living in rural and urban areas differ and offers a specific set of interventions for each case. Through implementing the Zero Hunger Plan, structural changes are sought that will bring more inclusivity and more opportunities to all citizens.

The Zero Hunger Programme is guided by broader government policy documents such as the Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP), and the New Growth Path (NGP) Framework and the Integrated Food Security Strategy, all of which identifies the agricultural sector as one of the sectors in which there is significant potential to create jobs. The New Growth Path targets opportunities for 300 000 households in agricultural smallholder schemes, plus a further 145 000 jobs in agro-processing by 2020. In the medium-term, Government has committed to creating 130 000 jobs in agriculture, forestry and fisheries by 2014, and to establish 15 000 commercially-oriented smallholder farmers. The Zero Hunger Programme is intended to contribute to meeting these targets.

In addressing food security in particular, South Africa supports the principled approach already taken during 2006 at the Abuja Summit on Food Security in which it was agreed that success in agriculture and food security cannot be divorced from national, regional, continental, and international efforts to address equity, peace and security, good governance, education and health issues.

It is further acknowledged that food security, as a development priority, has complex linkages with other key areas, including poverty alleviation, social safety nets, including school feeding programmes, procurement in local markets, price volatility, knowledge sharing, employment creation, youth development and human resource development.

South Africa can therefore support discussions on agricultural transformation to promote sustained inclusive agriculture growth for shared prosperity and improved lives and livelihoods as key building blocks for Africa’s socio economic development. To achieve this we need to find ways to:

  • Increase agriculture production, productivity and value addition;
  • Establish and maintain functioning agricultural markets;
  • Increase  investment financing (public & private) along the agriculture value chains; and to
  • Build resilience to address vulnerability to risks.

 

It is also our view that we need to strengthen focus on small holder farmers.  In South Africa we are steadily implementing our Comprehensive Agriculture Support Programme (CASP) to support subsistence, smallholder and commercial producers.  In addition CASP provides effective agricultural support and streamlined services to targeted beneficiaries of land reform as well as black producers who have acquired land through private means.

We particularly need to respond to the interests of women farmers.  Women constitute the majority of small-scale farmers in developing countries and make a significant contribution to food production.  It is estimated that 60% of the chronically hungry people are women and girls. However, these women experience a number of challenges including lack of access to land, technology, training, marketing, credit, seeds and fertilizers, among other.  In this regard, it is also critical that women be involved in the decision-making processes related to food security and agricultural development.

Various conferences have taken place not only in Africa, but globally to address the challenges of food insecurity and the need to improve agricultural development. I will confine myself, in conclusion, to the outcome document of the World Summit on Food Security that took place in Rome during November 2009. Countries undertook to, amongst others, take the necessary steps to enable all farmers, particularly women and smallholder farmers from countries most vulnerable to climate change, to adapt to, and mitigate the impact of, climate change in order to improve their level of food security. Agreement was also reached to assist the farmers in Africa and to reinvigorate national research systems, to share information and best practices as well as to improve access to knowledge.

Recognition was given that the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme under the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) was a good framework through which the world could coordinate their support for agriculture and food security in Africa. A commitment was given to work together, at all levels, in the spirit of partnership to address the issue of food security and agricultural development.

Following this sentiment of the importance of partnerships, it is important to note that during the AU–EU Summit that took place in Brussels during April 2014, the EU again acknowledges the importance of partnership between the two regions, as well as the importance of CAADP to secure food security and agricultural development.

We need to work together in multilateral organisations and bilaterally to find common grounds and innovative mechanisms to address the challenges of food security and agricultural development in order to create stability and a better future for all of us.  It is my view that the leaders of the African continent have proven their seriousness to address the issue of food security and agricultural development by identifying it as their theme for this year. We need to  pursue the issues and apply our minds. We owe it to ourselves, and to our children.

END.

 

 

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