SADC executive secretary Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax makes opening remarks at the SADC Council of Ministers meeting in Pretoria. Picture: Noni Mokati.

Pretoria - The agriculture sector in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region is currently taking strain and this could spell out disaster for crop production and furthermore, threaten food security.

SADC executive secretary Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax on Monday told those attending a ministerial council meeting hosted by the South African Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) in Pretoria that: “The region continues to be affected by poor weather and adverse climatic conditions that continue to stifle the growth of the agriculture sector.”

Lawrence Tax said the region has had to grapple with drought, among other challenges.

The emergence and outbreak of the fall army work in countries such as Namibia, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, she said, have weakened cereal production and resulted in food shortages in these countries which rely heavily on staple maize crop.

“These developments emphasise the need to have a robust and resilient agriculture sector. It is for this reason that our industrialisation agenda has proposed the development of value chains, in among others, agro-processing supported by other mechanisms to climate household food security. Or cooperation in this area remains critical,” highlighted Lawrence Tax.

On health matters in the region, she reminded ministers of the 16 members states that since the Global Fund towards the Cross-Border Wellness programme ended in December last year, more work beckoned for countries in fighting the scourge of HIV and AIDS.

SADC countries have now been tasked with overseeing all the 32 wellness sites that were established under the global fund project.

“The sustainability of these sites is imperative to ensure that the investment gains over the past four years to mitigate the impact of HIV AND aids on long-distance truck drivers and sex workers and affected communities around the borders areas is maintained. Allow me to take this opportunity to call upon members states to take up and priorities this critical initiative,” she said.

The council of ministers meeting which comes a few months after the  37th SADC Ordinary Summit held in August last year and recently the African Continental Free Trade Area in Kigali, Rwanda concludes on Tuesday, March 27 where ministers would have deliberated many other programmes including mapping out a budget for the 2018/2019 fiscal year.

Politics and Development