Agricultural reform should top the agenda

THE International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has published an alarming forecast.

 It says that food security in Africa is likely to be severely compromised by climate change, with production expected to halve by 2020.
The IPCC concluded that Africa is likely to be the most affected by climate change because of the increasing aridity and desertification in north and southern Africa. The panel also made the point that lack of applied technology and good husbandry has increased the region’s vulnerability. In human terms this means by 2020 millions of Zimbabweans could be facing starvation.
Does our government not bother to read the reports published by the United Nations or is it that they just don’t care?
This prediction begs the question of why African governments are not putting agricultural reform at the top of their agenda. Much of the desertification the IPCC refers to is caused or exacerbated by exploitative agricultural practices such as indiscriminate cutting of indigenous trees, overgrazing, continuous exhaustive cropping, not rotating with restorative crops, ignoring the need to prevent gully and sheet erosion. Eventually desertification takes place. We are destroying the natural resourses we rely on to feed ourselves.
On a worldwide scale the cost of food production is tied to the price of oil and food stocks. Africa’s policy of holding out the begging bowl in times of hardship may not be viable in the future. The stark reality now facing many African countries is to produce or perish. The population in Africa has grown exponentially for the past 50 years.  Many countries have reached the point where an agrarian based economy can no longer provide an acceptable standard of living, or even an unacceptable standard of living for the bulk of its expanded population. Radical reform and commercialisation of agriculture will ameliorate this looming threat but will not wholly solve the enduring problem, which is the imbalance that exists between population and economic output
Africa is not the only part of the world facing this intractable problem. China, India and many other Asian countries have had to provide for their burgeoning populations. They have all taken the same path to resolution; agrarian reform followed by the rapid expansion of the manufacturing and service sectors of the economy. If Asia did it, why not Africa!

Observer,
Harare.

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