Ahead of the UN Commission for Sustainable Development in May, Dr. Lindiwe Majele Sibanda of Farming First went into the BBC studios to discuss what the priority objectives for agricultural policy should be in sub-Saharan Africa.
Dr. Sibanda discussed the key principle of the Farming First plan as well as highlighting recent work of her own organisation FANRPAN on identifying the most vulnerable households in villages for targeted support. She discusses how African countries are spending $19 billion each year on the import of key staple foods despite the fact that 70% of the population is smallholder farmers with the potential to grow their own food.
Dr. Sibanda argues for the need to improve productivity in a sustainable way. Knowledge transfer and investment in infrastructure and resource management skills are key in achieving this. For instance, many farmers use recycled seeds which yield only 10% of the harvest that new seeds would bring.
Under these principles, agricultural policy should aim to help farmers eventually ‘self-help’ and become self-sufficient.
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The Farmers Guardian has written an article about how small-scale farmers can contribute to the fight against a future food crisis.
Farming First’s Dr. Lindiwe Majele Sibanda spoke the growing importance which agriculture is seen to have in global policymaking recently:
The signs are encouraging but we need to make sure the money is invested in long term sustainable projects based on our framework principles.
The article discusses recent funding increases from the World Bank and the US administration under President Obama. These measures are aimed to secure a food supply, build infrastructure, and avert the civil strife which emerged during the 20o7 food price increases.
In this video, Farming First’s Dr. Lindiwe Majele Sibanda discusses the Obama administration’s recent announcement of $448 million in funding to address the global food crisis. Dr. Sibanda explains the implications of such funding and how it can best be applied in southern Africa.
‘Farming First’ will be hosting a side event at the UN Headquarters on 5 May 2009, 1.15pm to 2.45pm.
The chairperson of the event will be Leonard Mizzi, Head of Unit of the Agriculture Directorate General of the European Commission. Other speakers at the event include:
Dr Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, CEO, FANRPAN
Dr. James Hansen, International Research Institute for Climate and Society
Serge Benstrong, President, Farmers’ Association of Seychelles
Sarala Gopalan, Women’s Representative, National Institute of Agriculture of India
Julie Howard, Executive Director, Partnership to Cut Hunger and Poverty in Africa
Antonio Galindez, Vice President Crop Platform, Dow AgroSciences
Thomas Rosswall, Chair, CGIAR-ESSP Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security Challenge Programme
The event occurs at the start of the UN Commission for Sustainable Development final session, where UN policymakers will be finalising policy directions on the topics of: rural development, agriculture, land, drought, desertification, and Africa.
The event also includes a Q&A and a roundtable discussion with experts from various fields.
All UN delegates and UN-accredited journalists are invited to attend.
In the wake of the recent G8 Agricultural Ministers meeting, Dr. Sibanda asked the fundamental question, “So what can Africans do to put food on the table and money in their pockets?” Her answer is to invest further in agriculture.
The article highlights the need for those in power to seek consensus, both in terms of how policy is drafted and programmes are implemented. Regional and pan-African programmes, such as the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural ADevelopment Programme (CAADP) — show promise for how coordinated efforts to share knowledge, enable markets, and build local access are already under way. Dr. Sibanda wrote:
It is time we realised that there can be no sustainable development without sustainable agriculture. For Africa to develop sustainable food polices, partnerships are key.
Dr. Lindiwe Sibanda discussed how the Farming First principles can be applied to boost the agricultural sector and to support the wider economy. She highlighted the need for more secure access to inputs and to a guaranteed marketplace where agricultural surpluses can be sold.
Dr. Sibanda also spoke of the need to create more linkages between the various agriculture-related programmes and policies which currently exist, and she discussed the opportunity which Zimbabwe has to apply these to their agricultural sector.