Botswana Minister of Agriculture Christian De Graaff has said in a majority of countries constraints involved during promoting nutrition sensitive agriculture are not due to practical issues but lack of understanding and collaboration within the industry. De Graaff said since linkages between agricultural production and the processing industry do not result in nutrition improvement, participating countries should strengthen coordination and align nutrition with current agricultural programmes among the appropriate sectors and stakeholders as best practice.
Addressing a Comprehensive African Agriculture Development (CAADP) and New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) co-sponsored Nutrition Capacity Development Workshop held in Gaborone from September 9 to 13 and attended by participants drawn from 14 countries, de Graaffe said: “The workshop should give the delegates from the respective ministries of Agriculture, Civil Society, Education, Health and Finance and the private sector to address issues of malnutrition and agriculture and explore how to coordinate our efforts better and effectively deliver nutrition services where they are most needed.
“The key issue is to fight hunger and malnutrition through increasing the supply of affordable nutritious and safe food, improve incomes of the poor; while ensuring overall dietary diversity. Come up with recommendations for strengthening capacities across the various sectors dealing with agricultural issues of this nature.
“Various factors contributing to food and nutrition insecurity such as HIV/AIDS and gender issues should be included considering their link to nutritional conditions of the society.
”It gives particular gratification that the objectives of the workshop’s theme: ‘Building Capacity to Mainstream Nutrition in National Agriculture and Food Security Investment Plans in Africa’ facilitates in integrating nutrition as part of agricultural development in Southern Africa.”
The Agriculture Minister encouraged dedicating time and energy to make the best benefit out of the workshop, eventually achieving the countries. As critical stakeholders and soul searchers in the food and nutrition security conundrum, make a mark through such workshops.
De Graaffe said the hosting of the workshop by Botswana underscores concerns that several countries in the region may not accomplish the millennium development goal (MDG1) of eradicating hunger and poverty.
NEPAD’s pan-African Nutrition Initiative nested with CAADP, offers a promising approach for capitalizing on the natural synergy of increased food production and improved nutrition. However, within the labour-intensive context of African agriculture, CAADP’s objectives for agricultural renewal cannot be achieved on the back of a malnourished workforce robbed of energy and incapable of reaching full productive potential.