Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the United States of America declared a plan aimed at┬áphasing out┬áfood insecurity┬áthrough an increase in regional trade.
The key aspect of the┬áplan is to foster┬áregional┬átrade┬áwithin the SADC region at a time when┬áSub-Sahara┬áintra trade is at an all time low.
Under the framework that was launched┬áby┬áthe United States Agency For International Development (USAID) recently the initiative will give a facelift to the Southern African Trade Hub (SATH) and embolden local farmers to produce more for regional markets.
Mission Director of USAID, Jeff Borns, hailed the plan, saying the new SATH project, which will have a budget of more than US $80 million for over 5 years, serves to increase international competitiveness, intra-regional trade, and food security in the SADC region.
This was in response to US President Barack Obama’s Feed the Future Initiative┬áthat was launched earlier this year with the aim of┬áfighting hunger at a global level.
Borns said that they saw a need to support agricultural production because food security is connected loosely with economic growth and social progress, as well as with political stability and peace.
He said trade is the most sustainable form of aid since┬áit has┬ábeen┬á “effective in spurring economic growth in the SADC region and translating that growth into poverty reduction and greater food security”.
┬áHe┬á said┬á lack of┬á business community awareness of export markets, difficulty in complying with international standards, low levels of investments, measly investments, lack of institutional capacity, weak infrastructure un-harmonized trade policies amongst others, are some of the factors that cause low trade levels within the region.
USAID’s new trade Hub aims to address or eliminate these constraints by providing technical assistance that enables government, the private sector, and civil society organizations throughout the SADC region to take greater advantage of regional and global trade linkages and export-oriented business development.
“To be competitive in today’s global marketplace, farmers, especially small-scale farmers, need to be integrated into the full chain of production, from farm to fork. USAID will facilitate this integration, enabling producers and rural industries to better connect with agricultural trade and market opportunities,” said Borns.┬á
The United States ambassador to Botswana, Stephen Nolan, said┬á it was important to address the challenge of food security in many southern African countries.
“Increased trade is key to achieving greater economic growth and poverty reduction. I am confident that this expanded engagement by the United States in promoting competitiveness and regional trade will have a deep, long-lasting and positive effect,” said Nolan.
SATH is a four-year long project with an optional one year expansion, The project was initially programmed to run from September 2010-2014.┬á