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Sunday, March 7, 2021

Food security is beyond agriculture – FAO rep

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In an exclusive interview with The Standard, Perpetua Katepa-Kalala said: “Food security is beyond agriculture and we all understand that. This is becoming increasingly clear and many of the issues that need to be resolved in order to attain food security lie outside the agricultural sector. One of the things that we need to realise is that actors across all sectors have to work together. These actors may form part of the agricultural sector, or in the area of infrastructural development. The key that FAO has found in working across many countries and a determinant to the attainment of food security is political commitment. The ability of a country to set very clear vision through prioritisation is important. Also, there is need to establish a conducive environment through policies, legislation and other strategic elements needed for food security. Another key aspect for the attainment of food security is the availability of appropriate technology. For example, for crop production, we need to have high yield because given the rapid population growth, we need to increase productivity by applying the appropriate technology. Likewise for livestock, you have to have the right types of breeds, good seed varieties of crops and the right types of fertilizers and inorganic chemicals. 

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“So the technologies have to be available and farmers must be able to have access to these technologies. The third aspect is the engagement of all stakeholders along the entire agricultural value chain. They have to be engaged and part of that engagement will have to come from a conducive environment and what is also clear is the need to grow the sector in an environmentally-sustainable way. This is because we can have a very rapid growth and if we do not take care of the work we are doing, in the long term this growth can be short-lived. Once you get the vision and policy environment, the engagement of the stakeholders, the appropriate technologies and the effective engagement and the resources that the stakeholders need making the capacity of stakeholders in assisting them. FAO has a supportive role to play in agriculture. So in everything we are doing, we support the ministry of agriculture and all other government agencies. We come at the invitation of government to be able to contribute in agricultural development. So we work hand in hand with our partners and let me say that we are really grateful for the opportunity to do that because it is the only way we are able to work effectively.” 

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