Johannesburg: South Africa has the most advanced agricultural sector and value chain but it is behind its Southern African Development Community peers in implement ing the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development. SA’s team - involving 11 national departments, development financial institutions and organised agriculture — met for the first time yesterday to begin the task of synchronising the country’s agricultural and rural development vision with the Nepad programme, almost 10 years since it was adopted by the African Union.
Addressing a media briefing in Pretoria yesterday on the progress of the programme’s implementation in Africa, Nepad CEO Ibrahim Assane Mayaki said he was encouraged now that SA had developed "strategic thinking on agricultural growth incorporating aspects of the programme".
Dr Mayaki said SA’s leadership role in the implementation of Nepad programmes was crucial, particularly to build sound markets in the Sadc region.
Simon Kisira, a monitoring officer at the Nepad Planning and Co-ordinating Agency and a member of the Nepad agricultural programme’s implementation team, said 40 countries on the continent were at various levels of actively implementing the programme, with 28 having reached the level of signing their national pact.
Within the Sadc group of 14 countries SA, Angola, Botswana, Madagascar and Zimbabwe were at the beginning of the process. Countries such as Seychelles, Swaziland, Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Malawi had already signed their pacts for the Nepad programme and were approaching investors, locally and internationally, to act on their plans, Mr Kisira said.
He said even though SA was one of the countries that were slow to implement the programme, it was likely to outpace its Sadc neighbours because of its advanced agricultural infrastructure and production levels.
SA is already ahead of the pack in realising the programme’s goals of extending the area under sustainable land management; improving rural infrastructure and trade-related capacities for market access; increasing food supply and reducing hunger ; and agricultural research, technology dissemination and adoption.
Sipho Ntombela, acting director-general at the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said it was important for SA to completely embrace Nepad’s Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme if it was to successfully tackle poverty and hunger in rural areas.