Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

***The views expressed in the articles published on this website DO NOT necessarily express the views of the Commercial Farmers' Union.***

Let’s address food security challenges

Let’s address food security challenges

Sunday, 05 December 2010 16:17


The ongoing land debate continues to centre on past injustices of the
colonial era.   This fixation with the past although understandable does
nothing to prepare us for the challenges that lie ahead; we cannot change
history, but we should learn from it.

Food security, job creation and the building of a modern diversified economy
are the challenges we face now and in the future. These challenges are
linked; therefore addressing them should become the core issue of the land

The global food crisis is the greatest challenge facing humankind now after
the threat of nuclear war that haunted the world for three decades after
WWII.  Hardly a day goes by without the media reporting on starvation,
chronic undernourishment and food riots somewhere in the world.   The common
link connecting these reports is the location; it is always in the third
world and the victims are always the poor and underprivileged.

Rising world population, climate change, rising oil prices, using grain to
produce bio-fuels, reliance on subsistence agriculture, lack of property
rights in the third world and bad governance are the main forces driving and
intensifying the global food crisis are: It maybe a cynical observation, but
farmers and traders in the first world have a vested interest in the global
food crisis and profits from it.

The first world has created this advantage for itself by promoting and
protecting its commercial agriculture. The third world has made little
effort to develop in a similar way and integrate commercial agriculture into
the mainstream of their economies. Culture, tradition and inertia seem to
prevail over any ambition to modernise and diversify their economies,
particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.   It is human nature for people to put
their own interests first, we in the third world must understand this and
react accordingly.

The majority of third world countries rely on subsistence agriculture and
imports to feed their people. Subsistence agriculture is structured to give
food security to its practitioners, producing a tradable surplus is regarded
as a bonus.   It may reduce hunger but it makes no contribution to building
a modern diversified economy or the creation of job opportunities outside of
agriculture.   It has changed very little over the past hundred years.
Modern seed varieties, oil-based synthetic fertilisers and pesticides have
helped, but it’s main features remains the same: rain-fed, labour-intensive,
low productivity, abysmally poor crop and livestock yields, starved of
investment, no rotational cropping and damaging to the environment.
So why does subsistence agriculture still remain the dominant system in the
third world?

In much of Africa underdevelopment is linked to the vulture politics of many
post-colonial governments.The precursor to food security is the development
of a modern diversified economy that is supported and supplied by a
commercialised agriculture.

Good governance, property rights and private investment is the key to
long-term food security, broad-based prosperity and sustained economic

Only commercial agriculture, be it large scale, small scale or a combination
of the two can provide the surpluses that are then described as food

In a small economy such as ours commercial agriculture and commerce and
industry are linked and interdependent, their relationship is such that one
will not thrive without the other.


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