Ministers for Agriculture and Food Security in the Southern African region have said that despite the economic slow-down that affected the region the food security in the region is reassuring.
The ministers of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) said this at the end of their meeting recently where the issue of the implementation of the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan of Action on Agriculture and Food Security was the key issue.
It was observed at the meeting that most member states are set to achieve improved yields in crop production this year than in 2008/2009 due to favourable rains that covered vast parts of the region.
“Although most countries in the region continue to import large volumes of milk and meat, significant increase in the production of animal products has been registered in 2008 compared to the previous year, 2007,” the statement released by SADC said.
Further, it was observed that the region also recorded a steady increase in fish production in most recent years.
The Region’s respective Ministers have reiterated their commitment to the implementation of the Dar-es-salaam Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security, whilst at the same time expressing their satisfaction with the positive results yielded over the past five years as result of the observance the Declaration, the statement said.
It is expected that, as such, it will contribute to improving the regional food situation and nutrition at the household level.
Progress was also noted in the “availability and use of key agricultural inputs” such as seed and fertilizers, adding that conclusion of negotiations on the development of a memorandum of understanding for implementing the harmonized seed regulatory system– approved in 2007.
The system, according to authorities, is aimed to improve seed trade and availability of high quality seed to farmers in the region, and will also complement the efforts of member states in improving crop production and food security.
Although SADC ministers concurred that agriculture currently constitutes a major component of trade in the region, however, concern has been expressed that, without developing the appropriate capacity for value addition through agro-processing, the potential in the range of agro-products, which otherwise would create vast opportunities in terms of employment and self sufficiency, will be highly underutilized.
Given the situation, the ministers underscored the importance of intra-regional trade.
The twin challenging issues of Disaster preparedness and Climate change also received due attention from the region’s policy makers, who then resolved in both instances to adopt proactive measures as a way to mitigate for any possibilities.