Southern African News Features                                           SANF 09 No 29, October 2009
Dar es Salaam Declaration on Agriculture the key to food security

Leaders of the Southern African Development Community have urged Member States to implement the Dar es Salaam Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security to boost production and improve access to food in the region.

SADC Heads of State and Government noted at their annual Summit that the region is lagging behind in implementing the plan.

"The Summit urges Member States to scale up the implementation of the Dar es Salaam Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security," the leaders said in a statement following their Summit in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in September.

SADC Ministers responsible for Agriculture and Food Security issued a similar statement at their annual meeting in May.

The ministers observed that over the past five years, the Declaration has significantly contributed to food security in the region and Member States should speedily implement agreed programmes for the good of the region.

The Dar es Salaam Declaration identifies a number of priority areas on which SADC countries should focus in the short term (2004-2006) and medium-to-long term (2004-2010) to achieve food security for the region.

The short-term measures include availability and access to key agricultural inputs for farmers, consisting of improved seed varieties, fertilizers, agrochemicals, tillage services and farm implements.

In the medium-to-long term, they agreed to meet the African Union target to allocate at least 10 percent of their national budgets to agriculture and rural development.

They also identified the need to develop a regional food reserve facility, improve infrastructure such as roads and rail to promote trade and open up the market, as well as construct dams for irrigation purposes.

The Declaration, made in May 2004 at a special Summit held in the United Republic of Tanzania, is an agreement in principle but is not binding on Member States. Among its recommendations is a review of progress at two-year intervals.

Malawi was the first SADC Member State to allocate 10 percent of its budget to agriculture, and this is credited as one of the factors in Malawi’s bumper harvest in the last agricultural season.

With regard to regular and timely reporting of progress in the implementation of the declaration, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Madagascar, Mauritius, Tanzania, Swaziland and Zimbabwe have reported significant progress.

However, many key targets such as the construction of irrigation schemes and the establishment of the regional food reserve are well behind schedule, although research on the modalities and strategies for the development of the reserve facility was carried out in 2006.

Agriculture is the backbone of most economies in southern Africa and SADC has identified the sector as a priority area for development.

Recent assessments by the SADC Ministers responsible for Agriculture and Food Security show that the region has recorded higher yields in 2009 compared to 2008 mainly due to good rains.

Climate experts have also forecast normal to below-normal rainfall for the period October to December 2009 with normal to above-normal rains for the period January to March 2010.

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SANF is produced by the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC), which has monitored regional developments since 1985

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