Govt commits to resuscitating agriculture, food systems

Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement deputy minister Vangelis Haritatos

LANDS, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement deputy minister Vangelis Haritatos says there is need to resuscitate agriculture and food systems to transform African economies and uplift citizens’ standards of living.

Speaking at the 6th Transform Africa Summit (TAS) 2023 in Victoria Falls last week, Haritatos said development in the agricultural sector would go a long way in uplifting the standards of living of the citizens.

TAS is a continental forum that brings together global and regional leaders from government, business and international organisations to collaborate on new ways of shaping, accelerating and sustaining Africa’s on-going digital revolution.

Over 3 000 delegates from about 100 countries representing a wide range of departments including the agricultural sector attended the summit.

“We meet to map a definitive, collective, bold and transformative way forward, to build Africa at large through strengthening partnerships as articulated in SDG [Sustainable Development Goal] number 17 which advocates for inclusive partnerships at global, regional and national levels in the quest to achieve Africa’s Agenda 2063, of transforming Africa into a global powerhouse,” Haritatos said.

“There are no known cases of countries that have transitioned from a low-income economy to a middle or upper-middle income economy without the drive of increased agricultural production and productivity. This is why agriculture is key to the economic prospects of Zimbabwe and Africa at large.

“Investing in raising agricultural productivity, supporting infrastructure, climate smart agricultural systems, market linkages, with private sector investments along the food value chain can help turn Africa into a breadbasket for the world.”

Haritatos noted that there was need for Africa to be cognisant of the inherent challenges and come up with solutions to the continent’s development needs.

“The importance and urgency of partnerships, developing robust strategies and policies that creating a conducive and enabling environment for the sustainable transformation, growth, development, innovation and competitiveness, cannot be overemphasised as we meet to share ideas, experiences, strategies, best practices in order to develop our economies,” he said.

“African countries must engage in firm collaborations and use local resources, local knowledge to fight the impacts of these challenges which derail economic growth and development through supply disruptions.”

The world is currently grappling with devastating effects of climate change which have derailed the development of agriculture, but Haritatos believes these “threats” should prompt African governments to introspect and focus on striving for self-sufficiency at all costs.

“Africa has the resource base, and we have a great comparative advantage in a number of areas and most critical is to develop innovative strategies that tap and maximise our potential and ensure competitiveness of our products on international markets,” he said.

Agriculture is the single most important economic activity in Africa where all principal grains — corn, wheat and rice are grown.

In Zimbabwe, however, due to increased climatic shocks, a 2019 World Bank report said Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector lost US$126 million annually.

Agriculture plays a key role in the southern African nation, contributing 11% to the gross domestic product and is the main source of livelihood for over 70% of the country’s population.

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