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SADC meets international partners in the agriculture sector

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The Southern African Development Community (SADC) organised a consultation meeting with its International Cooperating Partners (ICPs) in Gaborone from 11 to 12 October 2018.

The consultations that were hosted by the Food Agriculture and Natural Resources (FANR) Directorate provided an opportunity for both SADC and ICPs to update each other on new developments including SADC decisions and other agricultural related global developments. Delegates were informed that the SADC Council approved the Regional Agricultural Investment Plan (RAIP) in March 2017 and that the RAIP is premised on the SADC Regional Agricultural Policy (RAP).

Execution of RAIP is expected to enhance agricultural production, productivity and competitiveness of crops, livestock, forestry, fisheries and wildlife as well as support trade, industry and food security in the region. In addition, regional and international trade and access to market for agricultural products (crops, livestock and natural resources) is expected to improve.

One of the issues that stood out during the meeting was the SADC Water, Energy and Food Security (WEF) Nexus Dialogue Project which is aimed at supporting the transformation required to meet increasing water, energy and food security demands in a context of climate change in the SADC region through the development of a truly integrated nexus approach.

This approach was approved by the SADC Council and FANR was given the mandate to formalise the WEF Working Group within the Secretariat to drive the coordination and reporting mechanisms to respective Ministers through sectoral and/ or joint meetings. FANR will also mobilise resources to build capacities of member states for them to improve their skills to enhance sectoral coordination in building water, energy and food security.

Phase one of the program is aimed at helping regional organisations and their member states apply a nexus approach in the formulation of multisector policy recommendations, strategies, action plans and investment programmes. This phase will also identify concrete investment projects – with a focus on multi-purpose water infrastructure – which could be funded under Phase II.

Country assessments on the WEF have been completed for all the 15-member states where opportunities for WEF nexus approaches were identified. Regional governance and stakeholder analysis is under way and progressing very well.

A draft outline of the SADC regional WEF Nexus Operational Framework and project identification and screening criteria have been developed and a list of potential projects for screening using WEF nexus tools is being consolidated. It is important that farmers’ organisations at all levels follow closely these processes at national and regional levels.

SACAU Newsletter, March 2018

Click here to download our March 2018 Newsletter

SADC Member States ready for the fall armyworm in the 2017/2018 season

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The Southern African Development Community (SADC) in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) organised a meeting for Member States (MS) and stakeholders to discuss the state of preparedness to combat the fall armyworm (FAW) in the coming agricultural season.

Thirteen (13) MSs and other stakeholders such as CABI, CARDESA, ICIPE, CIMMYT, ICRISAT, IITA, University of Zimbabwe, World Vision and SACAU were represented.

It was clear from the discussion that the FAW caught most of the stakeholders unprepared in the last season. Considering that the FAW attacks mostly maize which is an “emotive crop” in the region, some countries panicked in the face of the outbreak. Farmers also resorted to massive and unprecedented use of different types of pesticides, some of which were not safe for humans and the environment.

The region now has an early warning system that will enable MSs to effectively identify, monitor and asses the risks associated with FAW and deliver a regional based integrated and timely early warning. Capacity development support is being provided by various stakeholders to national governments and institutions as well as at regional level to plan for data

collection and analyse the impact of FAW at household, national and regional levels. Government plant protection and extension staff from the entire region have been trained on FAW response and its management. The FAO Sub-regional Office for Southern Africa noted that the capacities of Southern African countries, communities and key stakeholders to implement prevention and mitigation and good agricultural practices through Integrated Production and Pest Management to reduce impact of FAW and guide the use of pesticides have generally improved.

 Most farmers and other stakeholders are becoming more aware on the FAW threat. Action and contingency plans have been developed, and communication products about the threat disseminated through various channels. FAO and other stakeholders will continue to support training of trainers and farmers and awareness raising in order not to lose the momentum already gained.

Some countries such as Namibia, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe have finalised assessing the impact of the FAW.  However, quantified data on affected hectarage and production losses was limited due to inadequate appropriate assessment tools, coupled with other factors. To this end, FAO provided countries with a standardised methodology for impact assessment, and facilitated the development of a common framework for the region to address the impact as a block since the FAW does not respect regional boundaries.

The EPAs are back!

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Six SADC member states – Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho, South Africa, Swaziland and Mozambique – recently concluded an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union as a bloc. Most of the remaining SADC members are covered under the EPA between the EU and COMESA.

Trade liberalisation is at the heart of EPAs, and the EPAs are World Trade Organisation (WTO) compatible. A stakeholder meeting was recently held to review the EPA process and a number of issues and observations were raised.

These included the lack of involvement by non-state actors (NSA), including farmers’ organisations, in the negotiations; the likelihood of further negotiations with Britain following Brexit; the negative impact this will have on regional integration due to the fracturing of SADC as a single unit as SADC EPA only covers six member countries and relatedly, the negative impact this might have on the implementation of SADC’s much publicised Industrialisation Strategy.

Other issues include potential conflict between the SADC EPA and the East and Southern Africa (ESA) EPA; expected import surges arising from the reduced tariffs; and that the tariff reduction could lead to reduction in revenue to governments which may not be replaced with aid or the positive impact of increased trade.

Three key messages can be discerned from the review meeting. Firstly, now that an agreement has been concluded, there is need to move beyond the politics and law to making it work- it’s no use dwelling on the past. Secondly, NSAs, including farmer’s organisations, need to re-group and tackle EPA issues, and the starting point is to understand what is in it, or not in it for them.

Lastly, whilst it might be good to liberalise, if you don’t increase productivity and competiveness you will lose out- farmers and other producers beware!

SADC can use cohesion to control Fall Armyworms

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Example of devastation caused by the Fall Armyworm

Farmers are calling for urgent regional action to help control the infestation of the Fall Armyworm in the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

FAO, SADC and the International Red Locust Control Organization for Central and Southern Africa (IRLCOCSA) met in Harare, Zimbabwe, from February 14th-16th to discuss the ongoing infestation.

Media reports indicate the worm has been identified in Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe and possibly more countries in the region.

“The Armyworm is known to have a negative impact on agriculture, food security and trade, making Sub-Saharan Africa more vulnerable due to its high dependence on agriculture,” said the president of SACAU, Dr Theo de Jager. Staple crops such as maize, sorghum, wheat, soya beans, groundnuts and potatoes have been attacked.

Farmers are encouraged to regularly inspect their crops for eggs and spray pesticides straight after detection.  SACAU further encourages farmers to constantly communicate with one another during this season and share information on how to better handle the outbreak.

“After identification, correct steps towards measuring the extent of damage on crops as well as control measures need to be taken,” he said. Pyrethroid class insecticides and carbaryl material can be used as control regulators, however, it is better to control the worm in its early stage due to its ability to build resilience against pesticides.

“We believe that remedial methods should be integrated and informed by expert advice from farmers based in the worm’s native countries because unlike us, they have dealt with the pest for many years,” said Dr de Jager.

The regional workshop recommended the following:

  • There is urgent need for strengthening information and surveillance systems through sharing of information at national and regional levels and effective functioning of regional databases
  • There is need to improve on the quality of information and reporting protocols for plant and animal pests
  • Improvement of early warning systems through addressing fragmentation of national and regional information systems
  • Strengthening inter sectoral collaboration at country level
  • Establishing the necessary structures for rapid response to emerging pests and diseases
  • Revise SADC structures for coordination of technical and sub technical committees on transboundary pests and diseases
  • Need for research to fill information and knowledge gaps
  • Address lack of awareness and communication of risks caused by transboundary pests and diseases
  • Improve laboratory diagnostics and capacities SACAU urges farmers to be on the lookout for unusual sightings and alert their nearest farmers’ organisation and relevant authorities accordingly