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27 million Sadc citizens to require food support

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Over 27 million citizens of the Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) require food and non-food supplies following prolonged dry spells and floods which affected food production in the region.

Director of Food Agriculture and Natural Resources at the Sadc Secretariat, Margret Nyirenda, disclosed this on Wednesday in Gaborone, Botswana when she addressed a media briefing on the sidelines of the 35th Sadc Summit of Heads of State and Government.

“During the 2015/16 marketing year the number of vulnerable people swelled from 24.28 million to 27.41 million, representing a 13 percent increase,” said Nyirenda.

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She said the 2014/15 season rainfall was generally poor in most parts of the region, which was made worse by floods in other countries like Madagascar, Malawi and Mozambique.

The poor rainfall season led to unsatisfactory overall regional food security situation for the season with an overall cereal (maize, wheat, rice, millet and sorghum) deficit of 6.33 million tonnes compared to a surplus of 1.21 million tonnes in the previous marketing season of 2014/15.

According to Nyirenda, the regional cereal availability is estimated at 40.23 million tonnes, representing a drop of 22 percent from 45.62 million tonnes last year.

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On maize which makes up more than 75 percent of the total cereal production in the region, Nyirenda said it is forecasted at 31.73 million tonnes representing an overall maize deficit of 1.20 million tonnes.

The picture is also the same for cassava whose production from countries like Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia dropped from 48.06 tonnes to 44.80 tonnes.

With regards to legumes, she said that available data shows that a total of 2.12 million tonnes were produced by the DRC, Malawi, Mozambique and South Africa.

Going forward, she said agriculture, food security and prudent management of natural resources will continue to be at the centre of the Sadc agenda for development.

She disclosed that Sadc will continue to implement the Regional Agricultural Policy that was endorsed by the Sadc Council of Ministers in August 2014 and the relevant protocols in order to improve production, productivity, competitiveness and trade in the agricultural sector, natural resources and environment.

Senior Officials from SADC Member States have been meeting from 10th August while the Council of Ministers will meet from 14-15 August with Heads of State and Government meeting from 17-18 August.

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