‘Food, nutrition security remain priority’ Dr Anxious Masuka

Elliot Ziwira
Senior Writer
The Government of Zimbabwe remains committed to crafting political guarantees and an enabling policy environment that ensures food and nutrition security through broad-based partnerships, a Cabinet minister said yesterday.

This comes as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on global economies, and climatic conditions are ever-changing, thus obstructing vulnerable communities in both rural and urban areas from accessing safe and affordable food.

Officially opening the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) sub-regional office for southern Africa (SFS) 15th Multidisciplinary Team meeting (MDT) in Harare, Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Minister Dr Anxious Masuka, said addressing challenges in the food system requires a holistic approach and broad-based partnerships involving all stakeholders.

In a speech read on his behalf by Deputy Minister Douglas Karoro, Dr Masuka outlined the ministry’s thrust to develop an efficient, competitive and sustainable agricultural sector that ensures sustenance at both household and national levels.

This, he said, was in line with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on the eradication of poverty and ending hunger, and dovetails with the national Vision 2030 agenda.

“The transformation of agriculture and food systems in Zimbabwe requires a well-coordinated multi-stakeholder drive to address the current inherent weakness and inequalities as we pursue the global drive to eliminate hunger and all forms of malnutrition by the year 2030,” Dr Masuka said.

Dr Masuka said the Government has embarked on numerous interventions, such as the Presidential Input Scheme (Pfumvudza/Intwasa), to climate-proof the country’s agriculture and rehabilitate the agricultural infrastructure to maximise productivity. The ministry has worked closely with FAO on a number of programmes aimed at transforming the agri-food system in Zimbabwe, including Hand-in-Hand, Agri-Invest, among others.

“We count on FAO’s technical and financial support to member states for the overall benefit of the region to improve food and nutrition security. Our relationship should be a flagship model that should be replicated and adapted in other FAO sub-regions,” said Dr Masuka.

FAO assistant director-general and regional representative for Africa, Dr Abebe Haile-Gabriel, highlighted the organisation’s work and priorities in Africa, saying significant progress has been made in many areas, where successes and limitations have been recorded, both of which offering learning opportunities for improvement on efficiency, effectiveness and accountability.

“The MDT is one of the critical forums for discussing the priorities, interventions and FAO’s technical support required for accelerating agri-food systems transformation in close partnership with global, regional and national research and development institutions, resource partners and the private sector,” said Dr Haile-Gabriel.

The SFS MDT meeting is an annual event which provides a platform for different FAO offices, SFS country member states, regional economic communities and other key stakeholders to discuss, dialogue, exchange information and knowledge on appropriate development and collaboration issues on the Organisation’s work in Southern Africa.

A hybrid event hosted from Harare, with other participants contributing virtually, the meeting will be held from December 7 to 9, 2021.

Running under the theme, “Towards Sustainable, Resilient and Inclusive Food Systems—Positioned for delivery in the face of multiple challenges”, this year’s meeting will focus on crucial issues confronting programming and delivery in the sub-region and country representations.

Of particular focus will be coherence between expressed priorities at country level and relevant economic communities in the region as well as policy and support requirements.

Progress on ARC 31, FAO’s achievements in the prior year and consultations on ARC32 and sub-regional priorities for the next biennium will also be deliberated at the meeting ahead of next year’s Africa Regional Conference (ARC 32) to be hosted by Equatorial Guinea in April.

Dr Patrice Talla, FAO Sub-regional coordinator for Southern Africa and representative for Zimbabwe, Eswatini and Lesotho, said inspired by last year’s theme, “Preparing to deliver in the face of multiple challenges”, the Organization has undertaken to deliver in the face of challenges such as the Covid-19 pandemic.

The conference is being held following a reorganisation of teams and processes aimed at making the sub-regional office fit-for-purpose in achieving the Four Betters (better production, better nutrition, better environment and a better life) as well as Programme Priorities enshrined in the FAO Strategic Framework (2022-2031).

“The Sub-regional Office, with support from the Regional Office for Africa and FAO Headquarters, is more than ever positioned to support member countries with innovative solutions to the impending challenges and to reach SDG 1 (ending poverty) and SDG 2 (ending hunger) in southern Africa,” said Dr Talla.

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