The three year-long EUR 9 million project ‟Support towards operationalization of the SADC Regional Agricultural Policy” (STOSAR) is financed by the European Union (EU) as part of its 11th Economic Development Fund Programme (EDF 11). The programme has three components being implemented by the SADC Secretariat and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), which are: i) enhancing information on agricultural production, sustainability and competitiveness for evidence-based decision-making; ii) improving access to markets through implementation of plant and animal pest and disease control strategies at regional level; and iii) facilitating implementation of some components of Regional Food and Nutrition Security Strategy (FNSS). The latter component is being implemented directly by the SADC Secretariat.
Through the project, FAO is supporting the SADC Secretariat to develop the long-term capacities of Member States by strengthening the management of agricultural information systems, and control of five emerging transboundary plant pests and diseases; Tuta absoluta, Fall armyworm, Fruit fly,Maize lethal Necrotic disease, and Banana Fusarium wilt, as well as, three high-impact transboundary animal diseases namely; foot and mouth disease, peste des petits ruminants and highly pathogenic avian influenza. Overall, the project aims to strengthen regional integration, promote sustainable agricultural and socio-economic growth, improve access to markets, facilitate trade, and enhance food and nutrition security within the SADC region.
In order to strengthen regional coordination and collaboration, build partnerships, and ensure sustainability of project results, five centres of excellence from the SADC region were engaged to provide technical assistance. Implementing entities include the French agricultural research and international cooperation organization CIRAD, the Universities of Pretoria and Stellenbosch in South Africa, the Agricultural Research Council of South Africa, and Eduardo Mondlane University in Mozambique.
Agricultural Information Management System (AIMS)
An effective agricultural information management system (AIMS) provides policy makers, planners and economic players’ access to reliable and timely information that is necessary for policy development, emergency preparedness, planning, and decision making in the context of programme management. It contributes directly to the main development objective of revitalizing agricultural and natural resources growth, enhancing food security and promoting rural development. Since 2006, the SADC Secretariat has embarked on establishing regional AIMS to spearhead the collection, analysis, dissemination, archiving of information and integration of various information systems in the region. Regular collection of data in agriculture and natural resources is mandatory to monitor progress made towards achieving targets sets by the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) and the Dar es Salaam Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security made by SADC Heads of State. The Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources (FANR) Directorate disseminates agricultural information through the AIMS.
Under the project ‟Support towards operationalization of the SADC Regional Agricultural Policy”, (STOSAR) key actions being undertaken on the AIMS programme include; sensitization of stakeholders, assessment of national agricultural information systems, and formation of a regional AIMS committee. National capacities are to be enhanced and linked to the regional system, this setup allows authorised users to enter and update agricultural information and statistical data, and to generate dashboards, country profiles and other reports. Its sources of data being primarily from Member States, with input from secondary sources to cover any gaps.
The data content covers a wide range including; information on crop and livestock production, livestock numbers, populations vulnerable to food insecurity, national requirements for staple commodities, trade markers, animal diseases, plant pests and diseases, national budgets, macro-economic data and other socio-economic data. Communication products to better inform policy decision-making processes at SADC will be developed. All-in-all, the AIMS standardizes and harmonizes relevant agricultural data to ensure international comparability, reliability and accessibility.
Livestock support the livelihoods, food and nutrition security and provide an important pathway out of poverty for at least 42 per cent of people in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) with over 60 % of the region’s total land area suitable for livestock farming. With approximately 100 million of its human population of around 235 million dependent on livestock, and contributing up to 40 per cent to agricultural GDP this sector presents an opportunity for poor smallholder livestock farmers, particularly women, to rise out of poverty. As a region, the SADC is endowed with rich livestock resources; 74.9 million cattle, 37,1 million sheep, 56.5 million goats, 15.1 million pigs, 1.9 million equine and 419.8 million poultry (FAOSTAT, 2016); as well as vast rangelands and diverse wildlife. An estimated 75% out of the above livestock population is kept under smallholder traditional farming systems. In recent decades, the world food economy has seen a shift towards increased consumption of animal-source foods; and against the backdrop of increasing world population, urbanization and globalization, this provides significant opportunities for African countries. However, apart from a handful of countries in Southern Africa (Namibia, Botswana, Eswatini, and South Africa), which enjoy access to the lucrative export markets for meat, most countries have not been able to unlock the full potential of their livestock resources.
Although Livestock Production offers the SADC region an opportunity for accelerated economic growth, the challenges that constrain access to markets and trade opportunities in the SADC region are many and varied and include i. the presence of trade sensitive transboundary diseases such as foot and mouth disease (FMD), peste des petits ruminants (PPR), highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), among others; ii. weak and under resourced veterinary services and related services; iii. lack of appropriate policy and regulatory frameworks and weak implementation, which undermine compliance with the sanitary requirements under the OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code (TAHC) standards, for animal health, and Codex Alimentarius standards, for food safety iv. lack of development of livestock value chains and related infrastructure; and v. lack of technical expertise and capacities for effective animal disease control, inspection and certification in accordance with international requirements and guidelines.
The animal health component is one of three components, in addition to plant health and agriculture information management systems that are being implemented under the STOSAR. The project is operationalizing the Regional Agricultural Policy (RAP) and aims to improve the productivity, production and market access for livestock and livestock products, through the control of three high-impact transboundary animal diseases. This is addressed through four key result areas, namely: i. harmonized regional control and management strategies for trans-boundary animal diseases: FMD, PPR and HPAI as they affect trade in animals and animal products; ii. Coordinated control and management of trans-boundary animal diseases - FMD, PPR and HPAI at regional level; iii. FMD, PPR and HPAI management capacities strengthened at regional and national levels for effective surveillance, and early warning systems, and implementation of control measures; and iv. Innovative approaches to risk management of trade related diseases are promoted in accordance with international guidelines and standards.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that between 20 and 40 percent of global crop yields are reduced each year due to the damage caused by plant pests and diseases. Once a pest becomes established, it is almost impossible to eradicate and is expensive to manage. Hence, effective control and management of transboundary plant pests of economic importance, can be achieved through development and implementation of harmonised pest management strategies that are aligned with regional and international agreements.
Plant health plays a critical role in improvement of food security and trade in food and agro-products. Crop pests, such as Tomato Leafminer (Tuta absoluta), Asian Fruit Fly, Maize Lethal Necrosis Disease, fall armyworm, banana fusarium wilt (Foc TR4) and cassava virus diseases pose a real threat to the food security of countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC). These pests and diseases have a negative economic impact, reducing productivity, decreasing trade opportunities, and worsening post-harvest losses. In addition, there is a continuous risk of outbreaks of emerging pests and diseases such as the African Migratory Locust currently affecting different countries in the region, further threatening the food security of Member States.
The plant health component is one of three components, in addition to animal health and agriculture information management systems that are being implemented under the SADC EDF 11 STOSAR project. The intervention supports Member States in solving phytosanitary issues, increasing productivity and exports, and preventing the entry and spread of pests of economic importance. These actions will benefit the Governments of Member States, farmers’ associations, individual farmers and consumers, including other players along the agro-processing value chain.