Mr Chairman, His Excellency Han Changfu, Minister of Agriculture of the People’s Republic of China, Honourable Ministers of G20 member and guest countries, other Heads of Delegations, Diplomatic Corps, Distinguished delegates and representatives of international organisations.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Honourable Ministers and Esteemed Guests let me first take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks and gratitude to Minister Han and his team of experts for the kind invitation to South Africa to participate in the G20 Agriculture Ministers’ Meeting and for the organization of these proceedings.
I believe that this meeting presents a perfect platform to formulate a shared vision, a united approach and draw from collective experiences to guide G20 actions particularly on Agricultural Sustainable Development. I wish to congratulate the China Presidency for taking the baton from Turkey to lead the G20 meetings for 2016.
We support China’s vision for technology innovation and dissemination, including ICT as critical enablers for powering the way in realizing the Sustainable Development Goals. We support the priority given to ICT solutions and innovation to promote food security and efficiency. This lays a table of opportunities for sharing and learning platforms as well as integration of systems for G20 members and non-member states to leverage on.
As a prelude to the discussions, almost 795 million people globally, are affected by hunger and malnutrition, particularly in developing countries. It is also heart-warming to learn from the 2015 State of World Food Insecurity (SOFI) that a global population of 73 million to date has been taken out of hunger since 2012. This is a global landmark achievement which bodes very well with the “Zero Hunger Challenge” facing the world today. We remain resolute and fully committed to turn the tide against the chronic problem of hunger, which further entrenches extreme poverty.
The Millennium Development Goals have come and gone. South Africa made significant strides regarding Goal number one (1) of halving the number of hungry people through food security programmes, which we have achieved. We commit to do more in building resilience on coping capacities of households. The Sustainable Development Goals (2030 Agenda) endorsed by world leaders provides a blueprint and a guide to monitor progress on targets for each Member State going forward. As the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, we align well with Sustainable Development Goals 1, 2 and 12 of aiming to end poverty, hunger, achieve food security, improved nutrition, and sustainable consumption and production.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, drought continues to be the key talking point in many African Countries, including my own. We are under the grip of the worst drought in Africa for years in record and memory. The domestic economies in our continent affected by drought have taken a sharp knock, with projected staple food price hikes likely to continue unabatedly. The steep food prices could push most households to more serious vulnerability status. It is business unusual as we try to cushion poverty-stricken households against the effects of drought and their snowballing effect on food inflation. Our countries have activated early warning systems to ensure that farmers respond appropriately to natural hazards. Great importance is also place on the reaffirmation of the Malabo Declaration and other declarations born in Africa which rhyme well with vulnerability assessments and implementation of food security implementation programmes.
South Africa would welcome initiatives that seek to address water security in line with the aspirations of the G20’s investment in infrastructure, taking into account that Africa depends on rain for agricultural production, and therefore food security. The G20 Agriculture Ministers Meeting could consider investment in water infrastructure for irrigation to assist smallholder’s farmers and Subsistence farmers in building resilience during times of drought South Africa would like to see smallholder farms and family farms’ issues enjoying the right status at the G20 platform. Our line of thought is a focus on ensuring that the needs of these farmers, particularly women and youth, are taken into account, giving priority to increasing investment in agricultural technologies within agriculture value chains as well as research and innovation from the seed production up to the plate. We need to offer innovative financial products such as tailor-made insurance scheme and soft loans in support of this target group.
We also believe that farmer incubation; mentorship and exchange programmes can enhance farmer production and productivity. South Africa would also like to see sustainable partnerships established within Africa and in the developing world, with other international programmes advancing agriculture and food security. We need to pace ourselves well in this regard and where possible, accelerate our efforts to achieve the ideal of finding synergies with each other.
In conclusion ladies and gentlemen, I believe that this Meeting will influence the public dialogue and continue to raise the profile of agriculture and food security. I wish the G20 Agriculture Ministers Meeting every success.