Marthina Mutanga & Samuel Shinendima
ABOUT 70 percent of the population in the Southern African Development Region (SADC) depends on agriculture for their livelihood, which in turn hinges on adequate, timely and well- disturbed rainfall.
Hon. Alpheus! Naruseb, the Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, who was the keynote speaker at the SADC Joint Food Security summit in Windhoek, said that SADC region should ensure that the decisions that they have to take are effectively and practically implemented on the ground.
On the other hand, it is also imperative that officials devise and implement strategies that will enhance their preparedness to respond timely and effectively to the effects of the increasingly volatile climatic conditions.
With the double effect of climate change and cyclones that have affected members of the region, !Naruseb said that they will continue to formulate and implement policies that support and promote climate smart agriculture, such as conservation agriculture, and the use of improved seeds.
“Policies strategies will not only enable us to achieve regional Food Security Objectives and targets, but will also put us in a positions to contribute towards the attainment of Continental Goals that are stipulated in Agenda 2063 of the African Union, and those of the Comprehensive African Agriculture Programmes, as well as to the Goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” !Naruseb noted.
The Minister of Fisheries and Marine Recourses, Bernard Essau, said that fisheries plays a major role in promoting food security in SADC, even though food security is mainly measured primarily from a cereal and other staple foods point of view. He said it is notable that total fisheries and aquaculture production in SADC accounts for about 8.4 percent of total agricultural production in the SADC.
The SADC is well endowed with blue economy resources in the ocean, rivers and lakes which include fisheries and other aquatic living resources, marine and aquatic transport, marine and aquatic minerals, ocean, rivers and lake tourism, energy association with these water bodies.
Essau noted that member countries of the SADC region must, just like what the rest of the world is doing currently, seek to develop the sustainable blue economy opportunities as one of the means to address the lack of food security of their people.
With short remarks by the Deputy Executive Secretary of Regional Integration, Dr. Thembinkosi Mhlongo, the promotion of regional value chains and increasing value addition for agriculture and non-agriculture products including fish and fishery products are key vehicles for realizing sustainable industrial development, improving productivity and supply side capacity.