A Southern African Development Community (SADC) Task Force of Ministers for Trade, Finance and Agriculture called on the regional member states to phase-out export duty on major food crops in the face of the looming food crisis that has already sparked riots in other parts of the world.
The Ministerial Task Force that met in Lusaka, Zambia, last week Sunday was appointed by the 14 member states’ heads of states and government which met in Mauritius in April.
“There are a number of factors that are believed to contribute to the observed increase in world food prices. Key among them are the increasing consumption of food in emerging economies such as India and China, commodity speculation, and inadequate investment in agriculture in recent decades,” the statement released by the SADC Secretariat said Friday.
However, food prices in the SADC region are said to be more stableÔÇöcompared to other parts of the developing worldÔÇöwith the region expected to have a bumper harvest of cereal crops this year.
“However, the prices in the SADC region have not risen quite as sharply as world prices, which provides for a window of opportunity for measures to be taken for minimizing future rises in food prices.
The current estimates show that the SADC region is expected to increase its cereal harvest by 18 percent compared to last year which results in significant increase in the regional food security situation,” the statement added.
The ministerial meeting noted that SADC countries with food crop surpluses could export to those with deficits in a bid to ensure food security situations in the SADC region. To ease the tension between countries with surplus and those reeling under deficit, SADC has urged for the removal of temporary export bans on major food crops to enable those with shortfalls access.
Further, a raft of measures has been adopted that include stepping up the level of investment in agriculture ÔÇö including increasing level of investment on agriculture to 10 percent of the GDP.
They also called for the improvement to agricultural inputs, financial services investment into the sector and the up-scaling of sanitary and sanitary standards and the establishment of a social security system for vulnerable people.
The global food crisis is being made worse by the international fuel price spikes and the use of food crops into bio-fuel in response to crude oil prices.
However, the G8 ÔÇô a group of the world’s eight most industrialized countriesÔÇömeeting in Japan last week fell short of addressing the food crisis affecting the developing countries the most.