Vice president Inonge Wina says the agriculture supports the livelihood of the majority across the region were people are directly or indirectly involved in agriculture through trade, transport production or processing. THE agriculture sectors plays a critical role in the development process of the country and the improvement of the population’s livelihood, Vice president Inonge Wina has said.
Ms. Wina was speaking at this year’s symposium for regional small scale farmers yesterday held under the theme ‘The African agriculture mirror reflecting small scale farmers, image.’
The Vice President said agriculture supports the livelihood of the majority across the region were people are directly or indirectly involved in agriculture through trade, transport production or processing.
She further reiterated government’s commitment to the development of the agriculture sector as it holds the greatest potential to poverty reduction and economic emancipation.
“It is time to discard the image of African small scale farmers as being peasant and subsistence … government will continue to implement policies that promote sustainable growth and development in the sector.
“Currently GMO is prohibited by law in this country, and we remain committed to implementation of comprehensive African development programs being implemented by other member states in the region,” Ms. Wina added.
She said government was aware of issues that arise in the agriculture sector and challenges faced by small scale farmers adding that government was ready and willing to listen.
The Vice President also admitted that “there is a trend of land grabbing by governments for investment purposes but this will come to an end and all stakeholders will be involved to stop land alienation.”
“Some chiefs sale land to investors without informing their people, this issue must be looked into by the house of chiefs in order to develop the sector and involve our people,” She added.
And representative for small scale farmers Dorcas Nshonga has asked governments in the region to stop land grabs taking place in the name of investment.
Ms. Shonga said anything that takes away land from the farmers reduces on their capacity to be employed and reduces on the returns of the land.
She also bemoaned the negative impact that foreign products have had on small scale farmers.
“We have recently realized that there is a legislation that criminalises the production, conservation, and recycling, sharing and general use of our traditional deed,” Ms. Shonga said.
She added that policy makers should consult small scale farmers on matters that relate to their development because they are the ones that put them in power.
Ms. Shonga alleged that, “Some policies have invested a lot in destroying our food system and we request government to critically watch on how they are taking over our food system bringing us into a new colony.”
And Chairperson for Alliance Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) Bernard Guri said local farmers must be promoted and supported because the food they produce is a form of identity in each country.
The regional small scales farmers’ symposium is aimed at preserving the culture, seed, sovereignty, identity and dignity of the farmers and also to improve and protect the farmers land.