South African President Jacob Zuma has called on Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states to speed up plans for the creation of a regional food reserve facility to mitigate variations in food production arising out of climate change.
“Considering the annual variation of food production in the region due to changing weather patterns, there is need to review the work need on the establishment of a regional food reserve facility,” Zuma said when he officially opened Zambia’s 91st agricultural and commercial show in Lusaka at the weekend.
Consultations and debate on the need to set up a SADC food reserve facility have been going on since 1980s. The persistence of food insecurity, the latest being last year when a number of SADC states including South Africa were hit by drought, has created more impetus for the food reserve facility.
Zuma, who takes over the chairmanship of SADC next month, also urged for more research in adaptation to climate change within the region.
“Agriculture remains the bedrock of the economy in the SADC region where more than 80% of the population relies on the sector. Therefore, enhancing research to give the sector more resilience in light of climate change is critical,” he said.
Zuma said modernising the agricultural sector would have a huge impact on the SADC regions.
His Zambian counterpart president Edgar Lungu said huge strides in making agriculture make a meaningful contribution to the nation’s economic development.
Reiterating that he would not intervene in the market outcry over maize prices, the president said the agriculture sector had a bright future.
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