The Centre for Policy Trade and Development (CTPD) has urged African countries to devise mechanisms on how they will address the looming food crisis in the region.
CTPD Executive Director, Isaac Mwaipopo has observed that with continued negative effects of climate change affecting most countries coupled with the effects of the Russia and Ukraine war, there is need for the member states to intensify their food production efforts.
Mr. Mwaipopo told ZANIS in an interview in Lusaka that as Zambia hosts the 4th Mid-Year Coordination Meeting of the African Union from 14 to 17 July 2022, African countries should use the meeting to find measures of improving its farming production capacity.
He explained that with the theme well centered on food production and nutrition, there is a need for countries to grow enough food for themselves.
“It is good that the summit theme highlights what is happening in the agriculture sector not only in Zambia. Many African countries are grappling with a number of challenges some coming from the negative effects of climate change which is impacting on their ability to grow enough food especially nutritious food,” he said.
He regretted that statistics indicate that many African countries will by 2023 face critical food shortages arising from increased production costs such as inputs.
Mr. Mwaipopo said this is why as African leaders meet for the summit in Zambia, they should discuss how the region should consider investing more in industrialization and start local manufacturing of vital farming requirements such as fertilizer.
He explained that it is the dependency of inputs like fertilizer from Western countries that has resulted in increased production costs of agriculture, hence the need to set up manufacturing plants within Africa will make it easy for the continent to produce adequate food.
“It is sad to note that some statistics indicate that SADC and a number of other countries are likely to face food shortages, this is not only peculiar to Africa, but the whole world due to the Russia-Ukraine war, therefore we are confident that the African leaders will during the summit have conversations on how industries can be set up within the continent which will make it easy to produce vital inputs such as fertilizer that is needed for our food production, “he added.
Meanwhile, Mr. Mwaipopo also expressed optimism that Zambia is expected to significantly benefit from hosting the 4th Mid-Year Coordination Meeting of the AU.
He explained that the meeting will present the country with the opportunity to market its potential to host international events and its prospects in various sectors of the economy.
Mr. Mwaipopo stated that this is an opportunity for Zambia and other countries to engage each other on a number of trade agreements that have been signed in order to strengthen their relations especially in the movement of goods and services.
He further appealed to African countries to step up their efforts and expedite the modalities on different trade agreements and ensure there is competitive goods and services that can be traded within the continent through expanded Free Trade Agreement (FTA) of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
And the Cross Border Traders Association of Zambia (CBTA), has described the hosting of the 4th Mid-Year Coordination Meeting of the AU as a milestone to the country’s trade and business community.
Association Chairperson, Goodson Mbewe said this is because the meeting will come with increased demand for local and international goods and services.
Mr. Mbewe noted that as an Association, the members are already positioning themselves to accrue the benefits that will come with the country hosting high profile dignitaries.
“As an Association we see a lot of benefits coming with the country hosting this meeting, we just hope that issues that impede the effective facilitation of trade will be tabled, we need to speak with one voice as Africa, the leaders should iron out those Non-Tariff Barriers and replace them with policies that we will ensure that Africa produces commodities that can be sold in any country without challenges,” he said.
Zambia is scheduled to host the 41st Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the African Union and the 4th Mid-Year Coordination Meeting of the AU and the Regional Economic Communities (RECS) from July 14 to 17, in Lusaka under the theme “Strengthening Resilience in Nutrition and Food Security on the African Continent:
About 13 Heads of State and over 800 delegates are expected to attend the AU mid-year summit in Lusaka, Zambia.