The Deputy Minister of Agriculture in Zambia, Nicholas Banda will officially open a regional food security policy dialogue taking place in Lusaka, Zambia on the 18th of October 2012. The dialogue, hosted by the Southern Africa Trust is in partnership with the Institute for Democracy (IDASA), an African democracy institute and the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU), will discuss ways to support small-holder farmers in southern Africa so they can increase food production at household level. Dr Chungu Mwila, the Chief Executive Officer of ACTESA-COMESA and Martin Muchero from SADC-FANR Directorate are expected to be part of the discourse together with government officials from SADC countries, farmer associations, members of COMESA and the SADC secretariat.
Overcoming food insecurity remains the highest priority for SADC. Small-holder farming carries the potential to combat declining agricultural production in the region by implementing appropriate agrarian reforms at household level. The Food Agricultural Organisation (FAO) estimates that in Zambia, 80% of the nation’s food requirement is met by smallholder farmers. Similarly, smallholder farmers produce about 80% of food and 20% of agricultural exports in Malawi.
Empowering small-holder farmers with the necessary agricultural inputs, assets and skills will improve food production at household level. Moreover, the challenges relating to food production can also be addressed by implementing appropriate policies that strengthen the state of small-holder farming systems within SADC.
At the dialogue, farmers will engage national and regional governments on ways to integrate smallholder priorities in agricultural policies and strategy formulation. The dialogue will also facilitate discussions on the SADC regional agricultural policy, mainstreaming gender as well as linking smallholder farmers to output markets. Stakeholders will arrive at recommendations which will be submitted to SADC to be included in regional agricultural policy that will address the challenges of small-holder farmers in the region.
The Southern Africa Trust is an independent non-profit agency that supports deeper and wider regional engagement to overcome poverty in southern Africa. ZNFU is a farmer organization that promotes development of agriculture to achieve sustainable economic and social development. IDASA is an independent non-profit public interest organisation promoting democracy in Africa.