Thursday, March 4, 2021

World Bank calls on farmers to meet looming food demand

The World Bank has called on subsistence farmers in the Sub-Saharan region to rise to the occasion as demand for food will spike in 2030 in this region—leading to a need to fill the shortfall. Sub-Saharan countries are located in the south of the Sahara Desert and Botswana is one of them.

The Washington based body said in a report “Ending Poverty and Hunger by 2030: An Agenda for the Global Food System” that this impending challenge will need strengthening of value across food chains and improving market access.

“Food demand is projected to grow over the next 15 yearsÔÇöby about 60 percent in sub-Saharan Africa, and 30 percent in South Asia,” stated the report, adding “poor farmers need to be better linked to markets to benefit from such growth.”

World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said countries should ensure that farmers have access to markets, receive fair value for crops, and grow foods that will withstand the rigors of a changing climate.

“They should invest in food, health, and care for young children and pregnant women, and improve access to nutritious food,” he said.

Botswana is one of the countries in the world that have declared war on poverty with the current leadership under President Ian Khama going to the extent of pledging to eliminate severe poverty. Agriculture has been identified as one way of defeating poverty, although the Ipelegeng program has been criticized for reversing agriculture as it takes away productive labor from lands. Government has spent close to P300 million on agriculture programs including the Integrated Support Programme for Arable Agricultural Development (ISPAAD), Livestock Management and Infrastructure Development (LIMID) that have come under scrutiny.

“Growth in the agricultural sector has a crucial role to play in improving the incomes of poor people, by providing farm jobs and stimulating off-farm employment,” Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) has said in the past.
FAO added that trade has an important role to play in improving food security and fostering agriculture. Some estimates put the potential annual increase in global welfare from freer trade in agriculture as high as US$165 billion.

“But the progress made in the current round of trade negotiations has been limited and the benefits so far remain modest. If future reforms focus too narrowly on removal of subsidies in the countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), most of the gains will probably be reaped by consumers in developed countries,” the organisation stated.

“Developing countries should benefit more from the removal of trade barriers for products in which they have a comparative advantage (such as sugar, fruits and vegetables), from reduced tariffs for processed agricultural commodities, and from deeper preferential access to markets for the least developed countries.”

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