Namibia launches Africa Solidarity Trust Fund for food security
Windhoek- Namibia has launched the national Africa Solidarity Trust Fund (ASTF) for food security project that aims to strengthen food security across the continent, by assisting member countries and their regional organisations in their short, medium and long term quest to eradicate hunger.
The fund that was launched in June 2013, aims to pool resources from some African countries and use them across the continent to implement the initiative under the framework of the African Union’s Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) to boost agricultural productivity and food security in Africa.
Namibia on April 16 launched the Africa Solidarity Trust Fund, with the Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry John Mutorwa reiterating the country’s commitment to taking its people out of abject poverty and deprivation.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry in partnership with FAO also held a two-day (April 16-17) inception workshop on Africa Solidarity Trust Fund Sub-regional Project that was themed: “Strengthening controls of food safety threats, plant and animal pests and diseases for agricultural productivity and trade in Southern Africa”.
In Southern Africa, the ASTF project which is administered by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) is implemented in partnership with the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
“It is a well-known fact that agriculture is one of the most important sectors in the Namibian economy. Its importance is particularly highlighted by the fact that almost 70 percent of our country’s population, especially those living in rural areas, depend on agriculture for their livelihoods.
“In addition, this sector is not only one of the biggest employers in Namibia, but it is also a source of foreign exchange, which is, derived from the export of livestock, meat products, table grapes and dates,” Mutorwa noted in a statement read on his behalf by his deputy, Theo Diergaartd.
Mutorwa noted that Namibia has demonstrated its commitment to food security through the endorsement of the 2003 Maputo Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security in Africa.
“Prominent among several important decisions regarding agriculture was commitment to the allocation of at least 10 percent of the national budgetary resources to agriculture and rural development policy implementation within five years.
“There has been steady progress in Namibia to achieve this. Therefore this project is a welcome investment and will complement a number of programmes initiated in the agriculture sector,” Mutorwa said.
“Acknowledging the crucial role that the agriculture sector plays in the lives of our population, Namibia has a Constitution that calls upon the Government to promote the welfare of the people of Namibia by adopting policies aimed at raising and maintaining an acceptable level of nutrition, food security and standard of living of the population.
“It is therefore encouraging to note that this project addresses the very impediments and constraints that limit progress in achieving sustainable agriculture, vibrant intra and inter – regional trade”.
Also speaking at the launch Africa Solidarity Trust Fund in Windhoek was FAO Representative to Namibia, Babagaba Ahmadu.
“The project aims to reduce the incidences of occurrence of food contamination, animals and plant pests and diseases and their impact on the productivity of food crops, livestock, fisheries and forest resources so as to enhance safe intra-regional trade in order to contribute to improve food and nutrition security in the SADC region,” Ahmadu noted.