26 May 2009

Southern Africa: SADC Ministers Say Food Situation OK

Contrary to recent reports from international agencies such as the United Nations, which lament decreasing food production and food security in Africa, a regional meeting in South Africa last Week concluded otherwise.

Agricultural ministers of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) met in Johannesburg last week and found that the "regional food security situation had improved in 2009 compared to 2008."

With regard to crop production, they noted that "most of the 14 member states expected better harvests this year than in 2008-09, due to favourable rains received in the region."

In the same breath, the meeting noted that - although the region is still a net importer of milk and meat - there has been a significant increase of animal products in 2008 compared to 2007. Similarly, the region has recorded a steady increase in fish production in recent years.

According to a communiqué issued on Friday, the Ministers reviewed progress on the regional food security situation.

Ministers noted progress made in increasing the availability and use of key agricultural inputs such as seed and fertiliser.

They observed that in the past one year, negotiations on the development of a memorandum of understanding for implementing the harmonised seed regulatory system, which was approved in 2007, have been completed.

The system aims at improving seed trade and the availability of high-quality seed to farmers in the region. This will complement the efforts of member states in improving crop production and food security.

In the livestock sector, the ministers highlighted the importance of controlling cross-border animal disease and the impact it has on trade of livestock and livestock products.

In this regard, the Ministers appreciated the high level of collaboration among member states in tackling such diseases in the region.

The Livestock Information Management System, which was developed recently to facilitate the sharing of information among the 14 member states, was also discussed.

"The need exists to sustain this system in order to facilitate the monitoring and surveillance of animal diseases in the region," the communiqué stated.

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