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The road to food security in Africa lies in farming

The International community and the big donors who have invested huge amounts of money in Africa over many decades to alleviate hunger and eradicate poverty were not successful in finding solutions to these problems.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the world’s population will increase by one-third between now and 2050.

If current income and consumption growth trends continue, the FAO estimates that agricultural production will have to increase by 60 percent by 2050 to satisfy the expected demand for food.

Agriculture must therefore transform itself if it is to feed a growing global population and provide the basis for economic growth and poverty reduction.

During the period between 2010 and 2012, almost 870 million people were estimated to be undernourished.

In addition, another one billion people are malnourished, lacking essential micronutrients.

Struggling farmers

About 60 percent of malnourished people are small subsistence farmers. This is shocking because they are the very people on whom most of the countries in Africa and the international community rely to feed the millions of undernourished and malnourished people.

The first obstacle on the road to food security in these mostly underdeveloped African countries is the unwillingness or inability of the countries and the international community to make a paradigm shift and realise that the production of food by small subsistence farmers will never be the solution to famine and poverty in Africa.

These farmers are in many cases struggling to make a living themselves.

It is a fact that no farmers in the world, regardless of their colour, race or the size of their farms, can make a contribution to food security if they cannot produce food profitably and sustainably.

The time has now arrived for everybody involved in wanting to achieve food security in Africa to acknowledge and accept this reality.

Once this obstacle is overcome and the mindshift made towards transformation of the agricultural industry, the road to food security can become a scientific and economic reality in Africa.

But an important question should be asked in this regard: how is it possible that the international community and big donors continued year after year and decade after decade with the same development policy that proved unsuccessful, but then expected a different result?

The ultimate question is, then, what should be done to achieve food security and eradicate poverty in these countries?

The answer is simple: profitable and sustainable production of food commercially.

This is the prerequisite for any country that wants to achieve food security. There is no other way.

The second obstacle to achieving food security and relieving poverty is the fact that the subsistence agricultural industry in Africa has never had the capacity to support an ever-growing population in a sustainable manner.

The fact that the agricultural industry still makes the biggest contribution to economic growth, and that it is still the most important part of the economy, is a further obstacle and remains the most important reason for the underdeveloped status of these African countries.

The only solution is the deliberate transfer of a major proportion of the population out of the agricultural industry to relieve the industry from its enormous burden, even if this takes longer than a generation or two to achieve.

Secondary and tertiary services will provide industries that are essential during the transformation of the current struggling subsistence agriculture to a highly scientific and commercialised industry.

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The investment in industrial development, specifically in agriculturally related industries, will have to play a major role in this transformation process.

It will create business and employment opportunities outside the agricultural industry.

Food production must be intensified and vertically expanded. After this further horizontal expansion can be continued.

Production must be commercialised, operated and managed on a profitable basis to be sustainable and to achieve food security and poverty eradication.

Food production should be adapted to climate change and must also be directed towards the conservation of the environment and natural resources.

The international community and big donors should invest in this transfor- mation process by appointing qualified agencies with the required expertise, skills and experience to produce food in these countries.

It should be produced in partnership with and to the benefit of the small subsistence farmers and the population as a whole.

Large projects that are highly labour intensive – such as the production of vegetables, fruit, flowers and other products under irrigation – should also be developed to accommodate a large number of subsistence farmers in a productive way.

The transformation of the agricultural industry should be economically and financially self-sufficient and require only an initial capital investment, with no further financial support.

Industrial development through the investment in agriculturally related enterprises such as seed production, manufacturing of fertilisers, machinery and implements – as well as renewable energy – will be essential wherever it is possible in Africa.

Investment in infrastructure to accommodate the import of production inputs and capital goods which cannot be produced or manufactured locally, as well as for the export of products, must receive a high priority.

Investment in manufacturing and value-added capacity must also have a high priority in developing new markets for agricultural products.

Child labour

Child labour should not be allowed and all children should attend school and receive further education and training in order to qualify themselves for employment and business opportunities outside the agricultural industry.

An acceptable birth control system would have to be developed and implemented to limit the rapid growth in the population.

As far a South Africa is concerned, the generally accepted goals of the government – of land redistribution and the development of small black farmers – on the one hand and food security on the other can never be compatible.

This is mainly because there is no possibility that small farmers, as in the rest of Africa, can make a meaningful contribution to food security if they cannot produce food profitably and sustainably.

This is a proven fact. Because of the small scale of their farming operations, the severe climate conditions, the fact that most of them might not have the interest, experience, entrepreneurship, or capital or management skills means they could find it very hard to survive financially.

And if they further don’t receive the necessary training and extension services from qualified and experienced agricultural scientists to develop as fully fledged commercial food producers, then it is fair to say that South Africa has taken the wrong road to the longer-term sustainable food security for the country.’

The land redistribution policy and small-farmer development in South Africa, as a purely political objective, may already have placed agriculture on a path to an unprofitable, unsustainable and non-commercial industry.

The question that is also relevant is to what extent these developments – together with the government’s prospects of agriculture apparently being the only industry to create more jobs – have already placed South Africa on a reverse path towards an underdeveloped country?

Fanie Brink is an independent agricultural economist. This article is adapted from a paper he presented yesterday at the Fertiliser Association of Southern Africa Congress in Somerset West.

Source: IOL


 

As the threat of climate change grows and rainfall patterns are affected, the question of food security becomes a practical and real concern. This seminar invites thought leaders and experts in the field of food security and agriculture to discuss these issues and to contribute to the formulation of consensus on the best course for South Africa.
As the threat of climate change grows and rainfall patterns are affected, the question of food security becomes a practical and real concern. This seminar invites thought leaders and experts in the field of food security and agriculture to discuss these issues and to contribute to the formulation of consensus on the best course for South Africa.

 

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Gauteng to create new economic corridors

The Gauteng government has announced interventions to change the space and structure of the province’s economy to help address unemployment, poverty and inequality. Speaking during the State of the Province Address on Monday, Premier David Makhura said these interventions were spatial reconfiguration; township economy revitalisation; and investment in infrastructure that the provincial government would undertake in partnership with municipalities and the private sector. Gauteng City Region’s space and economy would be configured into five development corridors that would have distinct industries and different comparative advantages, Makhura said.These are:

  • Central Development Corridor, which will anchored around the City of Johannesburg as the hub of finance, services, ICT and pharmaceutical industries;
  • Eastern Development Corridor, which will be anchored around the economy of the Ekurhuleni Metro as the hub of manufacturing, logistics and transport industries;
  • Northern Development Corridor, which will anchored around Tshwane as South Africa’s administrative capital city and the hub of the automotive sector, research, development, innovation and the knowledge-based economy;
  • Western Corridor, which encompasses the economy of the West Rand district and the creation of new industries, new economic nodes and new cities; and
  • Southern Corridor, which encompasses the economy of the Sedibeng district and the creation of new industries, new economic nodes and new cities.

Makhura said the provincial government would “mobilise” more than R10-billion in public and private investments in the regeneration of the Joburg CBD as the seat of the provincial government.The Premier said Gauteng would work with national government and the City of Joburg to ensure that the Central Corridor became the home of the proposed Brics regional development bank.A plan to revitalise the townships of Kliptown and Alexandra was also under discussion with government and the City as “the two townships are in a terrible and sorry state of disrepair”, Makhura said.

Transformation

Makhura also announced that 140 000 housing units would be built in the next five years in the area to help change human settlement patterns.Together with the private sector and the City of Johannesburg, there were plans to transform the spatial landscape of the Central Corridor, which include:

  • Masingita City, an integrated commercial and industrial hub, is a R3- billion private investment that is expected to create 15 500 jobs during its construction, which will begin in March.
  • Rietfontein. With an investment of R20-billion, this will be a complete mixed-use node with more than 8 000 proposed residential units, including commercial property, distribution and warehousing, retail and education facilities.
  • Waterfall City, the largest city to be built in post-apartheid South Africa. The estimated investment during construction is R71-billion, with an estimated 100 000 jobs to be created by the project.
  • The Modderfontein development will inject R84-billion into the economy of the Gauteng City Region and is expected to create 150 000 jobs over the next 20 years.

Aerotropolis

Turning to the Eastern Development Corridor, Makhura said 29 industrial initiatives under the banner of the Aerotropolis would be undertaken to revitalise manufacturing, aviation, transport and logistics industries linked to OR Tambo International Airport.”This will dramatically transform the current industrial structure of the economy of Ekurhuleni,” Makhura told the legislature.Other projects in the corridor will be the Tambo Springs Inland Port Development, with an estimated R7.5-billion investment over five years.The first phase of the Bus Rapid Transit System in Ekurhuleni would be operational by March next year, Makhura said, and more than 100 000 housing units would be built in the area over the next five years.

SA’s biggest convention centre

Makhura said Gauteng would be working with Tshwane to develop the West Capital development project in the Northern Corridor. This will include a student village, sport incubatory centre, retail and commercial components, inner city housing and health facilities.The African Gateway in the heart of Centurion would be a partnership with the private sector and will comprise South Africa’s largest convention centre, an hotel, residential, commercial and additional office space.

Tshwane

The City of Tshwane would be investing R525-million to establish a business process outsourcing park in Hammanskraal, Makhura said. “The park will offer on-site training, technical support and incubators for SMMEs. The project is expected to create more than 1 000 jobs during construction and more than 1 000 indirect jobs.”Working with the private sector, Tshwane would also continue to rolling out free wi-fi within the City. To date, R150-million had already been invested in this initiative.Makhura said more than 160 000 houses would be built in the area.Green economyThe economy of the Western Corridor would focus on green and blue economy initiatives, tourism, agro-processing and logistics, said Makhura.”Lanseria Airport and Maropeng World Heritage Site will be the main anchors of the new city and new economy of the West Rand,” he said.The corridor would be positioned as a hub of agriculture and agroprocessing, and a public-private partnership would see the development of aquaculture projects, such as the prawn farming facility, the premier said.He said more than 160 000 houses are to be built in the area.

Diversification

Makhura said the economy of the Southern Corridor needed to move from an “over- reliance on the steel industry” to one that included tourism and entertainment, agro- processing and logistics management.Among the projects would be the development of the new Vaal River City (hydropolis), with a private sector investment of more than R4-billion.Over the next five years, more than 120 000 houses in Sedibeng will be built.”Also in this corridor, we will continue to support the Gauteng Highlands development, a mixed-use development comprising industrial and residential space. This is a R40-billion investment aimed at creating 25 000 direct and indirect jobs,” said Makhura.

Source: SAInfo.com


 

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Globalising sustainable development

Eradicating extreme poverty by 2030 will not be achieved by rich countries giving money to poor countries , but will require financing, trade and partnerships from public and private sectors in all countries, say experts from the World Resources Institute.

The question of how the world can end extreme poverty and improve human wellbeing will take on new urgency in 2015, as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expire and a new set of goals – the proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – are finalized.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s “Synthesis Report,” outlining the main elements of the post-2015 agenda, provides strong guidance regarding what sustainable development should look like and what world leaders must do over the next 15 years to achieve it. After two years of crafting the “what” of sustainable development, the year ahead must focus on how to get it done.

The central ambition is bold: the eradication of extreme poverty by 2030. To make that happen, the SDGs will need to shift away from the twentieth-century model of development, in which rich countries gave money to poor countries, mostly to feed the hungry and improve health and education. The MDGs were remarkably successful in several of these areas. But the picture has changed significantly since then. A new set of emerging economies – including China, India, Brazil, and South Africa – is racing to modernize. The private sector is assuming a greater role in economic development. And environmental degradation is threatening the gains of recent decades.

The SDGs will have to transcend the idea of a planet divided starkly between those who give aid and those who receive it. The new goals must account for a world undergoing rapid globalization, in which all countries have assets as well as needs. Today’s challenges go beyond health, food, and education. The SDGs will have to integrate these concerns with the demands of the growing global middle class, the effects of shifting political and economic power, and the challenges of environmental sustainability, including climate change.

Three ingredients will be essential to achieving the goals: financing mechanisms, trade, and partnerships. Forty years after rich countries promised to dedicate 0.7% of GDP to aid, their commitments remain at less than half that level. Though most emerging economies no longer rely on aid, it remains crucially important for low-income countries. That said, even if aid targets were met, the shift to sustainable development will cost much more than what aid alone can cover. We need to look for new sources of funds, ensure that government spending is aligned with the sustainable-development agenda, and target those areas where the money can do the most good.

In much of the developing world, investing in sustainable development is complicated by the fact that tax revenues are too low to pay for what is needed. This is not always a matter of raising tax rates; it is also often a matter of collecting what people and companies owe. Closing loopholes and cracking down on evasion are two ways to ensure that taxes are collected. The OECD estimates that a dollar of aid spent on improving tax collection yields an average of $350 in revenue. A shared commitment that builds on initiatives by the G-8 would make tax evasion that relies on tax havens or money laundering harder to hide.

Governments cannot deliver a sustainable future alone. The private sector also has an important role to play in energy, agriculture, and urban development, including transport and water systems that can drive innovation and economic opportunity. While levels of private finance dwarf international public finance, directing these private funds to programs that reach the poorest and protect the environment requires the right policy incentives, such as a price on carbon, regulatory certainty, and the wise use of public money.

Trade boosts domestic production and generates revenue that can help pay for development. There have been important gains in market access in the past 15 years: 80% of developing countries’ exports to developed countries are now tariff-free, while average tariffs are down overall.

But non-tariff barriers can cost exporting countries more than tariffs do. What is needed is an international partnership that helps low-income countries integrate into the globalized marketplace while improving environmental and labor standards. The SDGs can create political momentum for these efforts, which could then be framed by the World Trade Organization in December 2015.

Making development sustainable will also require accelerated innovation and diffusion of technology between now and 2030. A global partnership could spur investment in research and development and ease the flow of information among scientists, business people, and policymakers.

Such new and creative partnerships can make progress on complex problems that governments, civil society, or the private sector cannot or will not solve alone. For example, the GAVI Alliance (formerly the Global Alliance on Vaccines and Immunization), a partnership comprising international organizations, philanthropies, governments, companies, and research organizations, has immunized 440 million children since 2000 and helped avert more than six million deaths. We must improve and expand these types of partnerships to other challenges, such as infrastructure, agriculture, and energy.

Between now and September 2015, when heads of state will gather for the UN General Assembly, we have a historic chance to set the world on a more sustainable path that will eradicate poverty and enhance prosperity for all. Ambitious goals provide a firm foundation for a brighter future. Over the coming months, however, leaders must work together to set the world on the right course to realize this vision.

Source: Eco-Business


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Young South Africans ask government for better access to tech, more transparency and renewable energy

Kids today, huh? Who knows what they want? Well, we do actually, but only because we’ve been reading through the Recommendations for the Sustainable Development Goals drawn up by at third annual South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) Young Leaders Conference recently.

The group deliberated the UN’s proposed Sustainable Development Goals(SDG), and drafted a number of topics and aspects they would like the government to focus on as part of the Post-2015 Development Agenda. The document has a very formal structure and talks about education, the eradication of poverty, the impacts of climate change and unemployment. They also touch on open data themes and increasing access to technology, and even express caution regarding current plans to build nuclear reactors and urge investment in renewable energy.

The 2014 SAIIA Young Leaders Declaration was submitted to representatives of the Department of Environmental Affairs, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, the Department of Basic Education, and the United Nations.

In Article 2 (Education), they urge the government to “Promote the integration of technology in delivering the curriculum for a more beneficial and personalised learning experience; Demands high quality, sustainable facilities to reach equal and improved education standards.”

Under the heading Communication, the youth explained that technology can have an enormous impact in the dissemination of information in an increasingly interconnected world.

Furthermore, we call upon the South African government to:
1. Improve public access to digital information regarding national and international environmental policies and laws, so that the public are aware of their rights and responsibilities.

2. Increase the exchange in information between Government, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), the private sector and community based organisations in order to increase awareness in environmental issues

The participants of the Young Leaders Conference also noted that they recognise the plans made by government to invest in nuclear power.

Furthermore, we call upon the South African government to:
1. Encourage improved management of industrial processes to utilise more energy efficient methods of production.
2. Increase funding into research surrounding alternative, renewable, sustainable energy sources to ensure their future development and integration in conjunction with nuclear power.
3. Bear in mind the importance of ensuring the safe, efficient disposal of nuclear waste to avoid environmental degradation.
4. Increase transparency between Eskom and the public regarding our energy crisis so that more solutions can be generated.

“We pledge to continue to engage with local policy-makers on pertinent issues affecting children and youth such as unemployment, poverty, inequality, as well as the lack of resources in disadvantaged communities,” the young delegates said in a statement.

Source: HTXT