AGRICULTURE: Collaborating for a Food Secure Future
Recent Western Cape Business News
THE UNIVERSITY of Fort Hare’s Alice Campus will host a high-level panel of prominent agricultural industry experts today – they will discuss the future of agriculture and food security in South Africa.
The dialogue, titled Towards a Food Secure 2030: Unpacking the National Development Plan is part of a series of debates organised by Oliver and Adelaide Tambo Foundation, in partnership with Absa, and aims at bringing under the spotlight a range of socio-economic issues affecting South Africa, and the continent. It will be attended by various agricultural industry stakeholders, including academics, government officials, representatives of industry bodies, farmers and investors, and will address some of the issues impacting on the country’s and continent’s food security prospects.
Among the issues to be discussed will be the impact on food production of the increasingly erratic weather patterns; volatile agricultural commodities markets; an uncertain land and agricultural policy environment; as well as concerns about the planet’s ability to feed an ever-growing population.
Wessel Lemmer, Senior Agricultural Economist at Absa, who will also be one of the panelists, says the debate comes at an important time when concerns about global food security are becoming real, as the growing demand for food is threatening to outstrip supply.
“The world’s population is expected to reach about 10-billion by 2050, with most of this growth expected to come from developing countries. This increasing population will naturally create more demand for food, water and land,” he says.
“It is projected that per capita food consumption will increase significantly, particularly in densely populated countries and regions. At the same time, climate change, including extreme dry conditions and devastating floods, is expected to put millions more people at risk of hunger in the coming years. The scarcity for arable land and water are also becoming major constraints to the growth in food production.”
“Startling food price hikes here and around the world in recent years have added to the growing concerns about food security. When global food prices rose sharply from 2006 to 2008, for instance, in many cases almost doubling, it became clear that the world was facing a new era of uncertainty with regard to food security.”
He notes, however, that South Africa and the rest of the continent hold the key to solving the problem of global food challenge, as close to 60% of the world’s uncultivated arable land lies on the African continent. This makes it one of the largest proportions of arable land available in the world.
“For Africa to realise its inherent food production potential, the continent requires capital and skills. What is needed is to develop its skill capacity, as well as funding models that are geared towards medium to long-term investment priorities with sound market access proven.
“The Oliver and Adelaide Tambo Foundation debates, therefore, such as this one at Fort Hare, are not only relevant but are also important in highlighting these issues and seeking sustainable solutions. As a bank, we have long identified agribusiness as one of the strategic sectors for support. We have been a partner in the agricultural environment for the past 100 years, and continue to use this wealth of experience to play a significant role in the growth and development of the agriculture.”
CEO of the Adelaide and Oliver Tambo Foundation Linda Vilakazi, says “As part of commemorating the legacy of Oliver and Adelaide Tambo, and the immense contribution they made to the advancement of our society, we are delighted to deliver these debates. The idea is to generate critical conversations on some of the most important issues and challenges facing our country. This is much in keeping with their beliefs that we must tackle our challenges head-on, and overcome them so that they do not keep us from achieving our potential.”
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