SADC Ministers responsible for Agriculture and Food Security, Fisheries and Aquaculture met through video-conferencing on 7 May 2021, to review progress in the implementation of the SADC relevant sectoral programmes, projects and related strategies under the Regional Agricultural Policy (RAP), in line with the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) (2020-2030). The joint meeting was attended by 92 delegates from the fourteen (14) Member States, namely Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The joint meeting was chaired by the Minister of Seas, Inland Waters and Fisheries of the Republic of Mozambique, Honourable Augusta de Fátima Charifo Maita.
The SADC Deputy Executive Secretary, Dr Thembinkosi Mhlongo delivered a statement on behalf of Her Excellency Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax. Dr Mhlongo welcomed all the Ministers present and wished them fruitful deliberations. He pointed out that despite the prospects of improved food and nutrition security for the just commenced marketing year which was mainly brought about by good rainfall experienced in the region, overall, the region is still experiencing negative effects of climate change manifested through recurrent torrential rains, floods, cyclones and drought experienced during the past few seasons and the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Minister of Seas, Inland Waters and Fisheries of the Republic of Mozambique, and Chair of the Committee of Ministers Responsible for Agriculture, Food Security, Fisheries and Aquaculture, Honourable Augusta de Fátima Charifo Maita, conveyed greetings from the SADC Chair and President of Republic of Mozambique, His Excellency Jacinto Filipe Nyusi. She congratulated the Member States for their efforts in promoting agricultural production and productivity, despite the challenges created by adverse climatic conditions, in the past cropping seasons, and the COVID-19 pandemic. She also highlighted important regional strategies that are key to enable agriculture production in the region, including the SADC Industrialization Strategy and Roadmap (2015-2063), the Regional Agricultural Policy (RAP), the Livestock and Crop Development Programmes, the Regional Food and Nutrition Security Strategy, and Regional Aquaculture Strategy. She encouraged all Member States to actively implement the RAP and the Protocol of Fisheries to ensure agricultural transformation and achieve food and nutrition security in the region.
Ministers noted with concern, the high numbers of food and nutritionally insecure people in the region (50.8 million) and urged Member States to continue implementing and domesticating the SADC Food and Nutrition Security Strategy (FNSS) in National Food and Nutrition Strategies in order to improve food and nutrion security. They encouraged Member States to attend and actively participate at the upcoming United Nations Food Systems Summit to be held in September 2021 which is intended to transform global food systems. They also urged Member States strengthen and expand coverage of social protection and safety-nets programmes to cater for increasing numbers of food insecure population and to promote value addition through agro processing value chains so as to increase period of consumption, reduce malnutrition, reduce post-harvest losses and create employment
The Ministers applauded the positive development trajectory witnessed in the area of fisheries and aquaculture which now employs approximately 3 million people in the region and contributes about 9% of the region's agriculture GDP.
The Ministers noted the outbreak of the African Migratory Locust and Fall armyworm that is affecting the region and the measures being put in place to address the challenges. Ministers also noted the outbreaks of transboundary animal pests and diseases such as the foot and mouth disease, Avian influenza in some Member States which are threatening normal trade in the region, and urged Member States to closely work together to facilitate joint cross border control measures in the management of these pests and diseases.
The Ministers considered and approved the regional strategies for the management of transboundary pests and diseases including Regional Strategy for Management of Fruit Flies, Fall Armyworm, and Tuta absoluta. Ministers also approved the SADC Framework for Antimicrobial Resistance Control and the SADC Regional Fisheries Monitoring Control and Surveillance Strategy, as well as Guidelines on the Operations of the SADC Plant Genetic Resources Centre (SPGRC) and directed that conservation of crop wild relatives be included among the responsibilities of National Plant Genetic Resources Centres (NPGRCs).
The Ministers noted that the Centre for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development for Southern Africa (CCARDESA) plays a crucial role in supporting National Agriculture Research Centres, technically and in resource mobilisation in strengthening their critical role of agricultural transformation and regional intergration. They urged them to support and make use of CCARDESA and Regional Centres of Leadership (RCoL) in the region to enhance research and improve agriculture production and productivity.
The Ministers commended the various partners including the European Union, FAO UNICEF, FishFORCE Academy, German Government including GIZ, Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR), OIE, Rhodes University, Stop Illegal Fishing (SIF), Water Research Commission (WRC), WorldFish and WWF for their support in the implementation of regional programmes and supporting the Operationalisation of the Regional Agriculture Investment Plan.
Finally, Ministers thanked the Republic of Mozambique for successfully hosting the joint meeting of Ministers responsible for Agriculture and Food Security, and Fisheries and Aquaculture, virtually, despite challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.