Agriculture essential to feed africa’s billion people – tanzanian permanent secretary of agriculture

"Agriculture should not be treated in isolation if Africa is to realise the full potential of the sector to feed its one billion people."

This is according to the Tanzanian Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, Mohamed Said Muya. 

Speaking at the Food Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN’s) annual policy dialogue in Tanzania today, Muya said all government sectors should be linked to agriculture as they are interdependent.  “Governments also need to invest in good infrastructure like roads to reduce the costs of production so that food becomes cheaper. 

"The government of Tanzania is committed to implementing the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), an initiative endorsed by African heads of state in 2003 in Maputo, Mozambique to boost agricultural activity.

"Tanzania also launched a 15-year agriculture investment plan, which is aligned to other national and regional policies, including the Southern African Development Community development plan and Millennium Development Goal One.  All the government ministries, private sector, farmers and other non-governmental organisations should know the role that they have to play to promote agriculture," said Muya.

FANRPAN CAADP Programme Manager, Ian Mashingaidze said many African countries need to be assisted to take the CAADP process forward.

"FANRPAN is helping non-state actors, including farmers, academics, the private sector and other members of civil society to participate in the CAADP process as they have a big role to play."

Engaging the youth in future agricultural developments in Africa takes centre stage at this year’s food security dialogue.  
"Now more than ever we have to ensure that the youth are part of decisions about the future of agriculture in Africa – they are after all the generation that will have to ensure that the continent’s growing population is fed," says FANRPAN Chief Executive Officer Dr Lindiwe Majele Sibanda.

"It is the responsibility of current leaders in agriculture to ensure the involvement of the youth in development.  This initiative started at the Swaziland Dialogue last year and we are intensifying our efforts."

The dialogue will review, among others, youth involvement case studies in Malawi, Mauritius, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.   It will also evaluate entrepreneurship possibilities for the youth as well as opportunities in communications and information communications technology and the youth’s involvement in policy decision making.

Also high on the agenda is Africa’s progress with CAADP which was established in Maputo in Mozambique in 2003.  Known as the Maputo Declaration, Africa’s leaders committed to allocating ten percent of their national budgets to agriculture by 2008 to achieve an average annual growth rate target of six percent in agriculture by 2015.

Seed policy harmonisation in the Southern African Development Community countries will also be debated in depth.

Sibanda says no dialogue about agriculture is relevant without discussing climate change. Civil society is committing to responsible increases in agricultural productivity through climate smart agriculture which includes proven techniques such as agro-forestry and conservation agriculture, that combine adaptation, mitigation, resilience and food security.

"African leaders in agriculture and indeed African heads of state will have to take the global lead to bring together a climate deal that has a dedicated work programme for agriculture. It is of utmost importance that Africa puts climate-smart agriculture high on the political agenda" she says.

"FANRPAN and its partners ensured that one of the outcomes of the UNFCCC COP17 in Durban was a dedicated work programme for agriculture.  This will be debated at COP18 in Doha, Qatar later this year," says Sibanda.

FANRPAN Chairman Sindiso Ngwenya who is also the Secretary-General of the Common Market for East and Southern Africa, will present the FANRPAN awards for media, civil society policy movers and shakers, the policy leadership award and the youth award at the Tanzania dialogue.

Over 200 international delegates from 30 countries are attending the dialogue from 3 to 7 September.

Monday, September 3, 2012
Ben Rootman
Junxion Communications
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