The SADC Food security Technical Unit (SFSTU) in conjunction with USAID Regional Center for Southern Africa (RCSA) and the SADC Secretariat recently organized a regional stakeholders workshop on Regional Consensus and cooperation in the agricultural sector from the 15th to 17th may, 1997. This workshop was held as part of the Regional Activity to promote Integration Through dialogue and Improved Policy Implementation (RAPID) - an action-oriented effort funded by USAID's RCSA.
The objectives of the workshop were to:
The workshop was attended by various stakeholders from the FANR sectors in the SADC region.
The following issues were discussed:
Officially welcoming the participants, Dr. L. P. Gakale, who is the Chairman of the Board of SACCAR and Director of Agricultural Research of Botswana expressed appreciation for the commitment of USAID/RCSA in supporting agricultural development in the SADC region. He further said that the workshop recommendations will help in the identification of issues and opportunities for cooperation and development of agricultural protocols.
The workshop was officially opened by Dr. L. B. Monyake, the SADC Deputy Executive Secretary. He thanked USAID for sponsoring such an important meeting. Dr. Monyake stressed the important role of agriculture in the SADC countries by mentioning that 80% of the region's population and labor force depends on agricultural and natural resources for subsistence and income. Agriculture contributes about 33% of the region's GNP and 26% of its foreign exchange earnings. Raising agricultural productivity is therefore one of the keys t poverty eradication as well as stimulating economic growth. He stressed that the workshop that the workshop is being held against a backdrop of staggering challenges and when some social gains are being eroded by lack of economic progress. Improving incentives and the infrastructure for farmers is vital to promoting increased productivity and output, Dr. Monyake said. He urged the participants to find sustainable means of supporting economic and agricultural growth in the region.
The United states Ambassador to Botswana, Mr. Robert Krueger also spoke on behalf of the United states government. Ambassador Krueger talked about the US history at the the turn of century where at that time 50% of Americans were involved in Agriculture and whereas today, less than 2% productivity in agriculture will be key to economic growth and sustainability. He said that the breadth of training and wisdom in the room was impressive. He recalled from his own experience when he was growing up the value of the Texas A & M University extension Service in the small farm town where he grew up and how important it was to have that kind of talent extended to the people doing the actual farming. He thanked SADC for its efforts and bid all to work closely with SADC and get all the projects done. Finally Ambassador Kreuger repeated the United States Government's deep commitment to support the region's initiatives, especially in private-public sector cooperation.
Copyright Chris Lungu, SACCAR, Private Bag 00108, Gaborone, Botswana email address: email@example.com