Botswana’s Minister of Agriculture Christiaan de Graaf has attributed constraints in promoting nutrition sensitive agriculture in many countries to a lack of understanding and collaboration within the agriculture sector.
Mr de Graff was speaking in Gaborone at the start of a four-day Southern Africa Regional meeting on Nutrition Capacity Development, which falls under the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). The meeting is jointly organised by his Government, NEPAD, Southern African Development Community (SADC) and development partners.
Under the theme ‘’ Building capacity to mainstream Nutrition in National Agriculture and Food Security Investment Plans in Africa’ the platform provides an opportunity to take stock of what countries in Southern Africa are doing to fight malnutrition.
NEPAD’s Director of Science and Technology, Professor Aggrey Ambali stressed that addressing nutrition required a multi-faceted harmonised approach because we could no longer leave to chance the attainment of a continent free of hunger.
Professor Ambali said, “Resources are required to support this. While the international community may support us, NEPAD is convinced that the Continent must mobilise its own resource to move the CAADP and the nutrition agenda forward.”
The meeting highlighted insufficient investments in agriculture, poor infrastructure, weak linkages of the productive sectors and climate change as factors which undermine efforts to improve agricultural production and better nutrition.
Through CAADP, NEPAD and Regional Economic Communities are striving to ensure that the Framework for African Food Security is efficiently implemented to achieve MDG1. The framework outlines that economic growth must be agriculture-led and aim to reduce risk at all levels by increasing the supply of affordable nutritious and safe food, and improving incomes of the poor while ensuring overall dietary diversity.
According to SADC Deputy Executive Secretary, Joao Samuel Caholo, any programme that mitigates poverty can contribute to addressing nutrition challenges.
“It’s also true that addressing nutrition can contribute to poverty reduction and there is need to work with the people to adopt solutions that suit their priorities and help them meet their challenges,” said David Tibe, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Country Representative in Botswana.
The meeting is expected to produce recommendations as well as revised National Agriculture and Food Security Investment Plans. The outcomes will play an important role in ensuring that Regional Economic Communities and member states will do business differently in order to improve their food and nutrition security situation.