SADC alerts farm­ers on ex­tended dry spell this year....

Zambian Business Times - - FRONT PAGE -

SADC farm­ers have been ad­vised not to sell their food stocks har­vested last sea­son as the re­gion ex­pects an ex­tended dry spell this com­ing rainy sea­son. This was con­tained in a state­ment made by its Di­rec­tor for food, agri­cul­ture and nat­u­ral re­sources, Domin­gos Gove dur­ing a me­dia brief­ing on the sta­tus of food se­cu­rity in the re­gion.

This was at a heads of state and gov­ern­ment sum­mit that took place in Wind­hoek last week. At the event, Gove said low rain­fall re­ceived last sea­son was in­flu­enced by ‘La Niña’; has neg­a­tively af­fected crop har­vests in the re­gion; and a drought is ex­pected to worsen this sea­son.

He added that ma­jor maize-pro­duc­ing coun­tries such as South Africa and Zam­bia also recorded de­clines in har­vests in the last sea­son, with yields de­creas­ing by 23% and 34%, re­spec­tively.

This sit­u­a­tion would thus threaten food se­cu­rity in the re­gion, and farm­ers were ad­vised not to sell their pro­duce in or­der to save up for the ex­pected drought.

“The food se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion in the re­gion is good, but sit­u­a­tions of food insecurity may oc­cur in more vul­ner­a­ble com­mu­ni­ties in coun­tries such as Le­sotho, Malawi, Mozam­bique, Namibia, Zam­bia and Zim­babwe,” Gove said, adding that although crop prices are cur­rently rel­a­tively low, they “may in­crease with the short­age of food pro­duc­tion”.

He fur­ther­more stated that SADC was mon­i­tor­ing trans-bound­ary crop pests and dis­eases, in­clud­ing the fall army worm which has spread to “42 African coun­tries, in­clud­ing 13 SADC coun­tries, ex­clud­ing Le­sotho and Mau­ri­tius”.

The crop disease sit­u­a­tion, such as “ba­nana bunch top virus and lethal maize necro­sis”, he added, also put crop pro­duc­tion in the re­gion un­der threat.

Gove thus urged mem­ber states to put mea­sures in place to en­sure that farm­ers ac­cess avail­able pes­ti­cides.

SADC has in­tro­duced sev­eral in­te­grated pest man­age­ment mea­sures, in­clud­ing low toxic pes­ti­cides and other bi­o­log­i­cal meth­ods, to con­trol pests and dis­eases.

SADC also im­ple­mented the har­monised seed reg­u­la­tory sys­tem to im­prove the af­ford­abil­ity and ac­ces­si­bil­ity of disease-free seeds in the re­gion which can be used in all mem­ber states.

Animal pro­duc­tion was equally un­der threat in the re­gion, and if dis­eases such as the “highly path­o­genic avian in­fluenza (HPAI), foot and mouth disease, and ra­bies” are not dealt with, SADC coun­tries would not be able to ex­port meat any­where in the world.

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