Editor's Comment

SADC needs collective food security plan

FROM RIGHT: Presidents Lungu, Peter Mutharika (Malawi) and Filipe Nyusi (Mozambique), in Blantyre where they held private talks on Monday. PICTURE: EDDIE MWANALEZA/STATE HOUSE

SOME countries in southern Africa are facing shortages of food due to a severe drought in the region.
The lack of rain has caused significant crop failure rates, with the World Food Programme estimating maize production to have dropped by a third compared with last year.
The drought has contributed to poor harvests in southern Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Malawi and Madagascar.
In view of this, countries in the region have to supplement their domestic production with increased imports, thereby pushing up the cost of food.
This has stressed governments in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to find food so that its people do not starve.
We, therefore, commend President Lungu and his counterparts from Malawi and Mozambique for tackling the issue of food security in their countries during their meeting in Lilongwe two days ago.
President Lungu met his Malawian and Mozambican counterparts Peter Mutharika and Filipe Nyutsi, respectively, on Monday to discuss various matters, including food security, which has adversely affected most of Zambia’s neighbours.
Zambia is one of the few countries in the region that have enough maize to meet their needs.
Like President Lungu said after the five-hour high-level meeting by the three heads of State, it demonstrates the countries’ collective resilience in creating trade avenues and co-operation to accelerate economic development in the SADC.
We are glad that as fathers of their nations, the three presidents have put the interests of their respective countries first by highlighting, among other issues, the food insecurity the SADC region is facing.
Food is very critical because hungry people are unlikely to be productive and are susceptible to diseases. Nations need healthy and productive citizens to ensure that they collectively help develop their respective countries.
Zambia has seen a lot of smuggling of maize and mealie meal as some traders try to cash in on the shortage of maize in the sub-region.
The rampant smuggling prompted Government to re-deploy Zambia National Service personnel to curb the smuggling.
The meeting by President Lungu and his two colleagues will ensure that they harness different countries’ comparative advantage.
Food will for once contribute the further integration of the SADC region as technocrats will be meeting to brainstorm the food crisis.
While drought has put the region in this scenario of insufficient food, it may also provide opportunities for the region to start looking at alternative food crops that do well with little rains.
Research centres in the SADC region have to work together to help the member states become food sufficient.
Agriculture is key to the growth of the economies of Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia.
It is a major source of livelihood for most people in these countries.
That is why achieving agricultural productivity is critical for eradicating poverty and achieving food security.

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