THE Agricultural Business Chamber (Agbiz) on Friday supported the declaration by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) that Tuesday October 16 be dedicated to World Food Day to highlight the challenges of more than 800-million people facing chronic food shortages.
With the theme "Agricultural co-operatives — key to feeding the world", Dr John Purchase, CEO of Agbiz, called on all South Africans not just to celebrate this World Food Day, but also to become more involved in the agro-food industry, which has a significant role in ensuring food security in the country.
The FAO has called on the developed world to make the global fight against hunger a major priority, saying this year’s theme critically examines how co-operatives put people at the centre of their operations and, in doing so, help members achieve shared social, cultural and economic aspirations.
Developing countries should explore the theme of farmers acting collectively to better take advantage of market opportunities and reduce the negative effects of food insecurity and other crises such as water insecurity.
The FAO says co-operatives can contribute in the scaling up of agriculture for changing rural landscapes, a process that should be accompanied by the integrated use of land, water and living resources. Smallholder farmers in developing countries are encouraged to strategically engage in small enterprise development opportunities and to operate their farms as businesses.
"This is done to improve their food security, nutrition, income, health and education — which will ultimately achieve a better future for them and their children," the FAO says.
Dr Purchase said key to the development and establishment of a competitive South African agro-food system has been the establishment of world-class co-operatives and an agribusiness sector providing services and products to farmers. He said agribusiness was increasingly creating market access and value-adding opportunities for farmers’ produce.
"There certainly are a number of strategic challenges facing the South African agro-food industry, but with dialogue and the right attitude from government and the private sector, these can be overcome," he said.
While government policy on agricultural marketing has played a significant role, more could be done to help provide opportunities for entrepreneurs to access the growing and profitable markets created by the deregulation of agriculture and the liberalisation of markets.
"It is essential that the public of South Africa be aware that our country has a robust and resilient agro-food system, and that our agro-food system be recognised, nurtured and cherished by all," Dr Purchase said.
Article source: www.bdlive.co.za
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