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Sustainable farming critical to food security in South Africa

Sustainable farming critical to food security in South Africa

Aug 24, 2015

It’s been said that Agriculture forms the foundation of developing economies, contributing to gross GDP, food security, social welfare, job creation and ecotourism. However, the long-standing health of South Africa’s agricultural sector depends on the sustainability of farming methods. These farming methods need to take into account long-term productivity, the impact on the environment, as well as profitability.

This is according to Mark Beaumont, Project Director for the Global Forum for Innovations in Agriculture (GFIA Africa) conference and expo, to be held at the Durban Exhibition Centre, in KwaZulu-Natal, from 1-2 December 2015.

“Studies conducted by a number of leading local and international institutions all provide ample evidence of the need to ensure that we employ sustainable farming methods across the agricultural spectrum,” says Beaumont. “With a continuous spike in global food prices, as well as social and political unrest in a number of countries around the world, sustainable farming is no longer just an environmentally conscious decision, but a critical strategic move that will ensure future food security,” he says.

According to a recent report released by WWF-SA (Agriculture: Facts and Trends. South Africa), the welfare of current and future generations might be at risk due to mismanaged agricultural industrialisation and intensification, which could compromise food safety and increase unemployment and environmental degradation.

The report adds that in contrast, sustainable agricultural will optimise the way that land and water resources are managed to maintain healthy and functioning agricultural ecosystems that are rich in biodiversity, mitigate and adapt to climate change, and ultimately contribute to the economic and social well-being of all.

“The theme of sustainable agriculture will form the centre of our conference and panel discussions at GFIA this year,” says Beaumont. “In fact, a number of the hosted events that will be facilitated by our partner organisations, are focused on this theme.”

GFIA Africa has just announced a new partnership with the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), a joint institution of the African, Caribbean, Pacific (ACP) States and the EU.

The CTA Through its mission to advance food security, increase prosperity and sound natural resource management in ACP countries, shares many of the GFIA objectives. CTA has partnered with GFIA to drive the participation of African farmer organisations from across the continent by running a number of events at GFIA Africa 2015. This will include a Continental Briefing for farmer representative organisations, a Plug & Play Day featuring the latest ICTs used in agriculture, as well as a hackathon and taster sessions for organisations interested in learning more about the applications of social media.

“Sustainable agriculture in South Africa is going to require significant collaboration between various stakeholders, including government, industry players, the farming community and environmentalists,” says Beaumont. “We will provide some insight on how to move towards a more sustainable agricultural future at GFIA Africa this year,” he concluded.

GFIA Africa is supported by The Department of Agriculture, The KZN Convention Bureau, AGRA, CTA, NEPAD, CAADP, ICRAF, FANRPAN, FARA, SACAU, PAFO and NAFU.

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