Agriculture remains the source of livelihoods for above 61% of SADC population mostly in the rural areas and of these above 65% are women who rely on agriculture for income and employment creation. What is worrying is the exclusion of women and youths in major agricultural policy making processes. Combating regional food insecurity in all of its complexity requires an array of actions. Firstly, the political and policy environments need to be made conducive especially for agricultural inputs, outputs and markets. Secondly, food security and sovereignty cannot be addressed in isolation. Practices and policies of different sectors need to be in harmony. In addition, the region is highly vulnerable to natural disasters including droughts, floods and cyclones that affect food security.
Southern Africa undeniably faces growing and uncertain chronic food insecurity. Evidence suggest that there has been insignificant achievements on improving food security in southern Africa, and more importantly food sovereignty. An average of 3.2 million people was undernourished between 2014 and 2016 compared to 3.4 million between 2004 and 2006. The prevalence of undernourishment remains high as food deficits have also remained high. Despite chronic food insecurity, transitory food insecurity remains unacceptable: In 2012, about 12 million people were food insecure, 14 million in 2013 and 29 million in 2016 as exacerbated by structural and weather challenges.
SEATINI concedes that while financial challenges, agrarian reforms, poor markets, and weather and climate variability have altered the agriculture system leading to food insecurity in the region, incompatible trade and agricultural transformation narratives based on the neoliberal framework have had considerable share of impacts on food insecurity in southern Africa. Through free trade agreements, governments have lost the policy space to support smallholder farmers due to the binding clauses in the free trade agreements, cheap foreign products stifles domestic production in tariff liberalised environment and liberalisation has promoted commercial agriculture (such as cash crops) at the expense of traditional food crops. Developing countries have not benefited from reduced protectionism and it has been difficult to promote smallholder agriculture that constitutes the bulk of farmers in southern Africa-under the liberal environment. Alternatives are critical.
SEATINI’s research, policy advocacy and movement building initiatives seeks to broaden and deepen publicly available information/knowledge on the forces militating against food security in southern Africa and tender alternative policies for improving food security outcomes using trade, investment and global system as the point of departure. The thrust is to promote sustainable food self-sufficiency, food sovereignty, and agricultural transformation for poverty alleviation and up-lifting the standards of living of the people. The organisation provide platforms for diverse interest groups to discuss different policy perspectives regarding food security in Southern Africa with wide lenses on the effects of trade on food security in the region paying attention to gender dimensions. Research outputs are fundamental in influencing trade negotiating positions within bilateral and multilateral trade systems. The thrust of the movement building initiative is to advance people’s power through engagement, organising and promoting social movements in demanding justice to food security.
SEATINI’s dream for a future world is one without war and violence. It is one where nobody needs to go hungry or thirsty, or without clothing, shelter, clean water, ample sources of energy, good health and education, and the higher pursuits of knowledge. It is a dream of a borderless world, where people move freely between climes and cultures, and where social structures, inclusion, culture and dignity give more status than consumer goods. It is a world where the benefits of the phenomenal advancement of science and technology are available to all, where these are applied to satisfy all the reasonable and sensible material needs of the world’s populations, where survival, access to basic needs and dignity are not dependent on paid labour
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