16 Apr 2015 14:31pm
WINDHOEK, 16 APR (NAMPA) Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Theo Diergaartd on Thursday launched the national Africa Solidarity Trust Fund project in Windhoek.
The Africa Solidarity Trust Fund was launched in 2013, in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, as a unique Africa-led initiative to improve agriculture and food security across the continent.
The fund aims to pool resources from some African countries and use them across the continent to implement initiatives in the framework of the African Union (AU)'s Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP).
Acknowledging the crucial role the agriculture sector plays in the lives of Namibians, Diergaartd said Namibia has a Constitution that calls upon Government to promote the welfare of the people of Namibia by adopting policies aimed at raising and maintaining an acceptable level of nutrition, food security and standard of living.
It is therefore encouraging to note that this project addresses the very impediments and constraints that limit progress in achieving sustainable agriculture and vibrant intra and inter-regional trade, he said.
The Namibian people have the right to expect that the food available on the domestic markets is safe and have the expected acceptable quality, Diergaartd said.
The deputy minister further stated that diseases affecting crops and livestock can have a devastating impact on agriculture productivity and production, on agro-trade and marketing and on human health.
These, he said, cannot be achieved without a holistic approach within the food value chain.
He then called upon all governmental authorities, local industry and other relevant stakeholders to ensure that this expectation is met.
In Namibia, agriculture is one of the most important sectors in the country's economy, with almost 70 per cent of the country's population, especially those living in rural areas, depending on it for their livelihood.
The agriculture sector is not only one of the biggest employers in Namibia, but it is also a source of foreign exchange, which is derived from the export of livestock, meat products, table grapes and dates.
The goal of the new trust fund is to pool resources from Africa's strongest economies and use them across the continent to support national and regional food security initiatives aimed at eradicating hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition.
The idea of the fund was launched during the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)'s April 2012 regional conference held in the Republic of Congo, when the host, President Denis Sassou Nguesso, called for greater solidarity between African nations to fight hunger.
Besides Equatorial Guinea, other African countries have expressed their intention to contribute to the fund. Angola was one of them.
The Africa Solidarity Trust Fund is intended to complement, not supplant, development assistance from overseas donors.
At the onset, it will focus in particular on strengthening the resilience of rural families and communities in the face of recurrent droughts and other crises such as in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel, scaling up activities that have already proven successful.
Administered by FAO, the fund will support Africa-led, Africa-owned initiatives such as the African Union's CAADP to boost agricultural productivity in the region.