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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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‘Vision 2016 product of political will’

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In an exclusive interview with The Standard, yesterday, the Canadian-born UN expert explained: “I think that the important thing about Vision 2016 is that it re-energises all of us around food security in this country. It gives us that extra kick to say food security is important and let us examine how we can mobilise ourselves, push ourselves and energise ourselves to achieve the potential. I think the important message about Vision 2016 is that the government believes and I agree with them that this country has the resources to be able to feed itself. This country has the water, the land, the people and all the resources to be able to produce enough rice to feed this country. But it is not just rice because there are other crops as well but if we focus on rice, definitely and for me this is the key message. There is an opportunity to do it quickly and not be so slow about it. If you look at rice in this country, the amount of rice that has been grown in this country has been growing slowly. Basically Vision 2016 says let us get on with it quickly… Let us do it quickly and faster and frankly speaking for me I think that is the most important message. That this country can be self-sufficient in rice production and it can happen very quickly if we can put in enough focus and the correct strategies used. 

“The most important thing that I think should happen is consistent policies that set the right environment for the farmers to want to invest in agriculture. After all, at the end of the day, it is a business decision and when you are talking beyond subsistence agriculture, where commercialisation comes in, it becomes a business decision. So I think agriculture has to become competitive like any other sector because if a farmer is sitting there or a business person or anybody who wants to invest somewhere, and sitting with their little pots of money, and saying where will I put my money, would it be in agriculture, would it be in processing? And they look at the different alternatives and at the end of the day; a rational business decision would depend on where the business person thinks he can make the most money. That is the sector that is most competitive and so the right kind of policy incentives is going to be key. The other thing which I think will also be important is rural infrastructure development which can entice various sectors. This is because you may have an area that has really good soil and you can get a fantastic crop of maize or rice if you plant there because the soil is good. But if the road network leading to that place is totally messed up, chances are that investors would not want to go there.”

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