SA spurns Africa’s farming initiatives

2010-09-07 00:00

THE South African government’s failure to join agricultural initiatives on the continent aimed at fighting poverty and hunger is stalling the progress of small-scale farmers in the country.

This emerged during the annual high-level regional food security policy dialogue hosted in Namibia from August 30 to September 3

It was disclosed during the dialogue that South Africa has failed to join several initiatives in Africa that could open market opportunities for the country’s small-scale farmers.

Inter Press Service (IPS) Africa reports that among the initiatives that South Africa has rejected is the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), which was inspired by Nepad.

The CAADP is a policy framework for the development of agriculture whose goal is to eliminate hunger, reduce poverty and food insecurity and enable expansion of access to markets.

South Africa has also declined to join the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa), which has a mandate to implement the CAADP agenda.

The perception that the country is much better off than its regional neighbours has reportedly sometimes led the South African government to spurn serious engagement with strategies adopted elsewhere to reduce poverty.

Thula Mkhabela, senior researcher at SA’s National Agricultural Marketing Council, says the government needs to pay meaningful attention to the needs of small-scale farmers.

“It seems there is no political will to become active in these. We seem to want to be seen as non-small scale farmers,” he adds.

“Food security can be a market opportunity for small-scale farmers in South Africa.”

Dr Nalishebo Meebelo, Comesa’s country CAADP process co-ordinator, said she would like to hear from South Africa why it has not signed up for either Comesa or CAADP.

“… How come their voice is never heard on these platforms?” she asks.

Additional reporting by IPS.

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