The launch of a regional agricultural research centre has demonstrated SADC’s
commitment to improving food security in the region.
Located in Gaborone, Botswana, the Coordination of Agricultural Research and
Development in Southern Africa (CCARDESA) aims to coordinate and stimulate
agricultural growth through research, technology development and dissemination
of research information to farmers.
Access to research information is critical for planning purposes, particularly
when farmers want to diversify into new crops or livestock.
Coordination in regional agricultural research and development helps to
strengthen partnerships between public and private organizations, thus allowing
for technology transfer to respond to the needs and demands of the agricultural
Speaking at the launch ceremony held at the SADC meeting of ministers
responsible for agriculture, the Vice President of Botswana, Gen (rtd) Mompati
Merafhe said advances in agricultural research and technology are critical to
boosting food security in the region.
He said SADC was fast expanding, thus the need to keep pace with demand and
ensure that the region is self-sufficient in food.
“The challenge of feeding more than 250 million people in the SADC Member States
is enormous, and the launching of this centre could not have come at more
appropriate time,” he said.
“To keep pace with population growth and other life demands, research and
technology development must remain focused and ahead of time,” he added, saying
that SADC should clearly position itself to compete with other regions on the
global food market.
Merafhe said southern Africa should continue to trust its own scientists who
have a rich traditional knowledge base, to exchange their discoveries and
inventions to make agriculture competitive.
He urged CCARDESA to live up to the expectations of the region by putting both
regional and international resources to good use, and ensure that the research
is demand driven and not necessarily to fill a professional gap for self
The Centre should generate useful technologies to support the interest of both
smallholders and commercial farming. Such technologies could include improving
storage facilities for farmers to allow them to store their produce for a longer
time and gain more from their yields.
A recent study by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that
most countries in southern Africa lose up to 40 percent of their produce after
harvest because of poor storage facilities.
The launch of CCARDESA is therefore, expected to revitalize agricultural
research and development in the region to allow SADC Member States to address
CCARDESA would also coordinate the implementation of the SADC Multi-country
Agricultural Productivity Programme (SADC-MAPP), whose main aim is to promote
agricultural development in southern Africa.
CCARDESA was established in 2010 following its approval by the SADC Council. It
replaces the Southern African Centre for Cooperation in Agricultural Research
and Training (SACCAR) which was established in 1982.
SADC’s Director of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources (FANR), Margaret
Nyirenda has been appointed to head the Board of Directors.
The SADC meeting of Ministers responsible for agriculture was held in July in
Botswana under the theme “Research and Development: Key to Food Security”.
Agriculture is the backbone of most economies in southern Africa, and SADC has
identified the sector as a priority for development.
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