Southern African News Features                                           SANF 11 No 24, September 2011
Southern Africa has enough food
 

The overall food security situation in southern Africa is set to remain stable throughout the year following another successful farming season.

SADC has now recorded three consecutive years of good harvest. Satisfactory yields recorded in the last three years as well as good rainfall predicted between October and December could effectively mean that the region’s food security situation would remain secure until next year and even beyond.

The Southern Africa Regional Climate Outlook Forum (SARCOF) predicts that much of the southern half of the region will have higher chances of normal to below normal rainfall between October and December. The rest of the region and most of Madagascar and Mauritius are likely to receive normal to above normal rainfall during this period.

As a result of the consecutive years of bumper harvest and a good rainfall forecast, the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET) projects that southern Africa would have sufficient food to meet its requirements.

“Food security conditions are projected to remain stable across the region through December. Staple food supplies remain satisfactory following three consecutive years of average to above‐average crop harvests regionally,” FEWSNET said in its recent food security assessment.

FEWSNET said most markets in the region would remain adequately stocked with staple foods, including those in deficit areas, as available foods find their way from surplus to deficit areas through formal and informal trading.

Prices are expected to continue following normal seasonal patterns, with a few exceptions mostly in markets around high consumption or deficit areas.

Southern Africa has managed to turn around its fortunes from being a food deficit region to one producing surplus grain due to various agricultural interventions by national governments to boost production.

These interventions include investing more in improved agricultural inputs such as seeds and fertilizer as well as targeted subsidy programmes that result in farmers accessing agricultural inputs and farm implements at cheaper rates.

Member States have pledged to allocate at least 10 percent of their national budgets to agriculture and rural development to improve food security in the region. This is in line with the Dar es Salaam Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security signed by regional leaders in 2004.

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

A progress report prepared by SADC Ministers responsible for Agriculture and Food Security said the implementation of the declaration has significantly contributed to food security in the region with some countries experiencing bumper harvests in the last few years.

For example, Malawi has moved from being a food deficit country to one producing surplus grain for other SADC countries. This phenomenal increase in production has saved the country a yearly budget of US$120 million that it had spent in 2005 importing food.

Other countries such as Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe that have vigorously implemented the agricultural plan have seen production rising steadily.

For example, of the 32 percent increase in cereal production recorded in SADC between 2005 and 2009, Botswana (though not a major cereal producer in SADC) recorded the highest increase, thus highlighting how countries are working towards boosting production and improving food security in their respective countries as well as the entire SADC region.

However, despite bumper harvest in most SADC countries, there has been concern over the large numbers of people requiring food and non-food assistance in the region due to various factors. These factors include high prices of fuel, low income, low prices for some of the cash crops and outbreak of livestock diseases and human disease such as the spread of HIV.

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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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