SouthAfrica.info (Johannesburg)

South Africa: R8.3 Million Boost for Sustainable Agriculture

Nedbank has invested R8.3-million in conservation group WWF South Africa's Sustainable Agriculture Programme, which aims to tackle food security challenges as well as protect natural resources in the country.

"A recent United Nations report titled 'Food and Agriculture: The future of sustainability' stresses the urgent need for the worldÂ’s farmers to be empowered to produce more food per unit of land, water and agrochemicals, while confronting widespread physical resource scarcity, a changing climate, and rapidly increasing input costs," WWF-SA's senior manager for sustainable agriculture, Inge Kotze, said at the launch in Cape Town last week.

"These challenges overlaid with the degradation of our natural eco-systems and biodiversity make modern day agriculture more precarious than ever."

Collective and collaborative partnerships

Collective and collaborative partnerships have an important role to play in enabling sustainable agriculture which contributes to the reduction of environmental and natural resource impacts, said Nedbank Agriculture's John Hudson.

"No single individual or organisation has the capacity to deliver the level of change required to make a real and lasting contribution to the sustainability of our country’s agriculture,' he said.

"[This] is why this partnership with WWF-SA is designed to unlock the full power of collective, public-private partnerships, collaborative investment, and support and recognition for those that demonstrate commitment and innovation in meeting the agricultural challenges facing South Africa and the world in the 21st century."

Only 13% of the South African landscape is suitable for arable or permanent cropland, and two-thirds of the country's surface freshwater resources are currently utilised for irrigated agriculture, according to WWF-SA.

Supporting a vibrant agricultural sector

"There is an urgent need to redefine and refocus our vision in terms of the future of food and the role of agriculture in reaching that future," Kotze said.

"This is why the Sustainable Agriculture Programme is aimed at enabling better production, rather than merely focusing on increased output alone.

"By promoting and supporting a vibrant and profitable agricultural sector in this way, we can all help to address potential food security challenges, while at the same time protecting the country’s/the planet’s natural resources, and unique biodiversity," she said.

Hudson said Nedbank aimed to promote and reward agricultural best practice and innovation. "By 2050, conservative estimates are that there will be around 9-billion people living on Earth.

"If our country is going to overcome the significant environmental, social and economic challenges involved in feeding our population at this time, it is the responsibility of every one of us to start thinking and acting more sustainably right now," he said.

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