“Despite its huge agricultural potential only 7 percent of arable land is irrigated – a mere 3.4 million hectares out of 50 million hectares of arable land. This is unacceptable for a region that relies on cereals particularly maize given the crop’s sensitivity to dry spells”.
THE Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says it is committed to supporting the growth of agriculture in SADC at a time when several governments in the region have identified the sector as major driver for economic development and poverty reduction.
Addressing participants at the 12th meeting of the multidisciplinary team in Harare FAO sub regional coordinator Patrick Kormawa said food and nutrition insecurity is related to structural issues that require a collaborative approach among stakeholders to address.
The meeting also comes at a time when the region is facing a potential drought in the wake of the ELNino phenomenon.
“The sub region is home to over 340 million people. It is estimated that about 70 percent of the region’s population depend on agriculture for food, income and employment. However, the performance of the agricultural sector hinges largely on the right amount of rainfall at the right time.
Despite its huge agricultural potential only 7 percent of arable land is irrigated – a mere 3.4 million hectares out of 50 million hectares of arable land. This is unacceptable for a region that relies on cereals particularly maize given the crop’s sensitivity to dry spells.
For the region just like many other region on the continent food and nutrition is fundamentally related to structural factors. Such factors include issues related to access to agricultural finance, education and employment. Additionally issues related to access to affordable agricultural inputs such as fertilizer, water, and seeds also lead to nutrition and food insecurity”.
He said in order to address the challenges in the region there was need to take into account the socio-economic realities of the region as countries are classified differently in terms of per capital incomes.
“Such classifications are important for our strategic planning as what a low income country within the region requires maybe different from what an upper middle income country needs. As such the one approach fits all is not applicable. It is also to underline some of the peculiarities of some countries in the region”.