Advocating for the active Engagement of the Youth in the Agricultural Value Chain

19 - 23 September 2011
Ezulwini, Swaziland

Lack of goverment commitment responsible for food insecurity

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Date: 
7 October 2011
Authors: 
Lindi van Rooyen
Source: 
Farmers Weekly
Article content: 

Climate change and a lack of government commitment to agriculture has increased food insecurity of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) region. The region is now more undernourished than ever before, according to Dr Lindiwe Sibanda, CEO of the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN).

"Agriculture is the backbone of the economy, but governments have not yet realised its potential," she said at FANRPAN's food security policy dialogue in Swaziland. Dr Sibanda said that HIV/Aids also contribute to food insecurity because it inhibits the labour force. But the biggest factor inhibiting food security is the low level of food production in the region.

"Around 70% of the population is rural and rely on the food they produce themselves. If their yields are low it means they have to rely on food aid that is not always available.

"Farmers in the SADC region produce on average one-tenth of the harvest potential of maize seed. This is because they use poor Resourcesquality seed that is recycled every year."

Dr Sibanda said that targeted subsidies can fight food insecurity.

"Lack of financing means many farmers in Africa can't afford pesticides and fertilisers, which decreases the yield. Dryland farmers in the SADC region should be getting at least 3t/ha of maize, but most only manage 200kg/ha. "Subsidies in Malawi have resulted in bigger maize yields because farmers are now using fertiliser and quality seed.

"Food aid creates dependency whereas subsidies don't."

Sitembile Ndema, programme manager: Women Accessing Realigned Markets, said that after a bumper crop, Malawian farmers don't need subsidies the following season as they made enough profit to buy their own inputs.

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