‘The big focus should be food security’

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Windhoek – Namibia’s Agriculture, Water and Land Reform Minister Calle Schlettwein says governments and their partners should ramp up efforts to enhance food security by increasing investment in agriculture and associated value chains.

He said the manifold challenges posed by health crises, climate change and the locust plague should serve to prompt proactive action in enhancing food security rather than divert attention and resources from that imperative.

“The multiple pandemics of Ebola, COVID-19 and malaria in the continent have drastically hampered food production and we need to find remedies that address the challenges associated with poor production.

“It’s estimated that with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the number of food-insecure people globally will increase by between 83 to 132 million this year. At the same time, the number of obese and overweight people will increase to above two billion. A critical factor driving this grim statistic is poor diet.

“What people eat now depends on what is available, what they can afford, and what they prefer. If we want people to eat healthy diets, we must produce the nutritious foods they need,” he said.

Minister Schlettwein said authorities must encourage research, production, and investment in agriculture with a view to improving nutrition levels and household incomes.

He said a major focus should be on mechanisation of agriculture and curbing food losses incurred from poor storage and poor market access.

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates that as much as 50 percent of Africa’s food staple production is lost post-harvest. At the same time, the continent spends billions annually importing food.

More than 60 percent of Southern Africa’s citizens depend on agriculture directly and indirectly on agriculture for their livelihoods.

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