Director of Ceremonies – Dr Mpati Katewa
His Excellency, the Vice President of the Republic of Namibia - Nangolo Mbumba;
The Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry in Namibia – Hon. Alpheus Naruseb
The FAO Country Representative in Namibia – H.E. Farayi Zimudzi;
SADC representative - Mr Domingos Gove
Governor for Kavango West Region – Hon, Sirkka Ausiku
Regional Councillors present
Our Faith Ministers present
Our benevolent sponsors and partners
Ladies and gentlemen;
Good day, Goeie Middag mense van Namibia
It is an honour and privilege to be part of this ground-breaking moment wherein the Namibia takes over the baton of regional commemoration of the World Food Day. South Africa is truly honoured to hand over its chairpersonship to Namibia by sharing one of the most significant hallmarks in the form of the World Food Day. The 2018 World Food Day will remain memorable for all of us as it takes the call to tackle poverty eradication and food insecurity at the Regional level.
The 2018 World Food Day marks 73 years since the FAO was founded in 1945 and this is the 37th World Food Day commemorated by the FAO. South Africa on the other hand has been commemorating the World Food Day for the past 15 years, without fail.
The year 2018 further marks the centenary commemoration of our great icon, the first democratic President for South Africa, Dr Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. Africa at large is proud to be associated with such an iconic leader, in his words Dr Mandela cursed poverty in all its forms, as I quote his words: “As long as poverty, injustice and gross inequality exist in our world, none of us can truly rest”. This should serve as a rude awakening for the Region and the Continent at large.
I would like to extend my appreciation to the government of Namibia for accepting the roll out model of commemorating the Regional World Food Day, further extend appreciation for the people and communities at large in Kavango West, especially the farmers without whom we would all be faced with a serious dearth of food. I also acknowledge the support and contribution of the SADC Secretariat, The FAO of the United Nations, The European Union, food companies and other partners here. “We are grateful”. This is a public private partnership we are calling for in our region and within our countries.
The SADC region’s population is estimated at over 340 million with about 29.4 million people estimated to be food insecure in the 2018/19 consumption year; which makes 14.2% of the total population in the 11 countries. South Africa is one of the four countries, (DRC, Malawi, South Africa and Zimbabwe) in the 11 Member States that makeup close to 90% of the food insecure people. According to a 2017 general household survey, the number of South Africans with inadequate or severely inadequate access to food stands at 13.9 million (25% of the population), of which those with severely inadequate access to food numbers 3.55 million (6.4%).
Decreases in food insecure populations are recorded in Namibia and Eswatini. The Consolidated Approach to Reporting Indicators of Food Security (CARI) indicates that 39% of rural Namibians are moderately food insecure and 1.4% severely food insecure. In urban areas, 69.3% are food insecure and 1.1% severely food insecure. About 24% of children under age 5 are stunted.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is of importance to note that food and nutrition insecurity is a complex matter to address as it is fundamentally related to structural societal factors, including developmental issues such as access to land, credit, education and employment, as well as access to affordable agricultural inputs such as fertilizer, water and seeds. Unstable economic growth, high population growth and environmental degradation are also contributing to ever-greater numbers of people affected by shocks.
Agriculture is the key for economic transformation, Food and Nutrition Security. About 70% of the region's population depends on agriculture for food, income and employment. Hence, investing in the agricultural sectors is fundamental to eradicating poverty, hunger and malnutrition, particularly in rural areas where most of the region’s poorest live. Investments need to simultaneously:
1) Increase small-scale farmers’ productivity and income;
2) Diversify farmers’ income through value chain development; and
3) Create more and better jobs for the rural poor.
I, therefore, encourage us as member states to put efforts to develop resilience-building initiatives including (but not limited to) employment creation in rural areas, incorporating climate smart technologies in subsidies and conservation agriculture.
Furthermore, to strengthen collaborations both at regional and national levels to assist food insecure populations and scale up safety net programs as they play a significant role in ensuring food and livelihood security, especially among the poor and the very poor households.
My Department, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries represents South Africa in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Vulnerability Assessment Activities. We provide the Secretariat and Chair for the South African Vulnerability Assessment Committee (SAVAC) with data on behalf of the Country. SAVAC is meant to be an efficient multi-stakeholder structure in the country for development and maintenance of the widely accepted common / integrated information system to measure food insecurity and vulnerability in a more systematic and regular way. It seeks to:
(a) Identify people who are food insecure and vulnerable to shocks and hazards; as well as finding where these people are located; and
Explore the reasons for their vulnerability and device means to address gaps.
The collaboration and support received from the SADC Secretariat cannot be expressed enough as this initiative is assisting to direct and guide support initiatives and channel efforts of government towards one goal, food security and poverty eradication.
The 2018’s World Food Day theme titled: “Our actions are our future. A #Zerohunger world by 2030 is possible” is in line with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, in particular SDGs 1 of eradicating poverty in all its forms and SDG 2 of ensuring Zero Hunger. The task at hand is even bigger as we have to share knowledge, strengthen partnerships for sustained growth and collaborate further for the benefit of our people. SADC’s continuous and structured support remains critical and should be commended.
In line with already existing SADC Ministerial Decisions South Africa has been further requested to lead the following:
research work in the control of the Fall Army Worm and develops the regional control model the draft Charter for the establishment of the SADC Regional Fisheries
Monitoring Control and Surveillance Coordination Centre (MCSCC)
Ground work has been done for implementation of these legacy projects. Programme Director, I would like to request the current honourable chairperson of SADC and our partners to pursue these three projects. I further request the chairperson to pass the baton to the incoming chairperson with the same energy that he received it. These initiatives plus others from Namibia are key to food security and integration of the region. We all want to collectively control invasive pests and diseases, monitor, protect and conserve our marine resources, in order to ensure sustainable food security especially for our vulnerable communities. In this way, a zero hunger world by 2030 would be in sight.
Ladies and gentlemen, our partner, the FAO Country Office based in South Africa has pledged to support our government with tablets loaded with the Fall Armyworm Programme. This token by the FAO augers well for South Africa because as the Region we are launching the Fall Armyworm Framework and the Fisheries Facility as legacy projects during this Regional World Food Day. The impact of the Fall Armyworm outbreak was very trivial on grain production in South Africa, however the smallholder farmers felt the effect of the pest, at local level and the consequence was food insecurity at the household level. It makes sense to appreciate partners such as the FAO as I am aware that they are part of this process of regionalising the World Food Day as well.
At this moment let me take this opportunity to share what makes the World Food Day sustainable in South Africa. Noting the fact that we held our World Food Day on the 24th October 2018, due to unforeseen circumstances, the World Food Day is commemorated on the 16th of October every year. These events would not have been possible without strong collaborations between government and non-government partners. In South Africa, as we might know that we have three spheres of government; the National, the Provincial and District spheres, these government units have very collaborative efforts towards the event. Over and above these government structures, are our sponsors who come from both business and industry sectors. We have a very robust mobilisation and relationship towards this worthy cause. It is in the interest of the Namibian government to ensure that all are aware of this drive, though it is commemorated once a year, it should be an everyday event as food is required on a daily basis.
My team would have also shared with you that we build a food mountain to intentionally shudder hunger for that day and beyond and the hunger alliance walk that we undertook earlier today is critical as it is intended to admonish the demonic food insecurity. It is hoped that all the food from the food mountain will benefit the deserving people amongst our communities and not those that can afford to buy food.
I will not forget to emphasize the importance of producers in our region and elsewhere in the world. I would therefore like to close with a quote by Brenda Schoepp, a farmer herself, who quotes her grandfather as saying that “once in your life you need a doctor, lawyer, policeman, or preacher but every day – three times a day- you need a farmer”. This is true for every one of us here and I would like to wish Namibia and our SADC member states well in taking the challenge of dealing with poverty and food insecurity head-on. In South Africa we say “together we can do more”. Thank you; Baie Dankie; Mpandu Unene!!!