Ministers responsible for agriculture, environment and natural resources have adopted the COMESA COVID-19 Food Security Response Plan to help the region deal with the impacts of Covid-19 on regional food security.
In their 7th joint meeting conducted virtually, the Ministers expressed concern about the unfolding effects of Covid-19 on food and nutrition and called on Member States to immediately mobilise resources to support the implementation of the regional plan to ensure food security.
The Ministers also committed themselves to ensure that food and agricultural input markets and supply chains, along with associated logistics and services remained open and functional in line with the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite COVID-19 guidelines adopted last week.
In a Declaration issued at the end of the one-day meeting, the Ministers pledged to support agricultural research to develop, transfer and disseminate technologies, innovations and management practices that are climate-resilient, market-responsive, suited to assorted agro-ecological contexts and end-user preferences in the region.
“We commit ourselves to supporting smallholder farmers to increase production and productivity, through access to inputs, services and improved technologies including seeds, planting materials, fertilizer, veterinary products and animal feeds,” the Ministers said.
Speaking at the official opening, Secretary General Chileshe Kapwepwe said a lot more still needs to be done for the region to effectively address the challenges of climate change, transboundary plant pest and animal diseases, and degradation of natural resources.
“We need to build the resilience of our agriculture and agri-food systems as well as ecosystems for greater functionality and efficiency. This will also call for adoption of comprehensive approach to early warning, disaster preparedness and response including social protection & safety net systems,” the Secretary General noted.
She urged Member States to collectively deal with food safety issues to further open-up markets and enhance trade in safe agricultural and food commodities in the region and in the context of African Continental Free Trade Area.
As part of efforts to boost sustainable agricultural productivity, the Secretariat has supported Member States to adopt Climate Smart Agricultural policies and strategies and implementation of the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) through technical and advisory support.
The Secretariat has also supported the development of livestock and fisheries development through provision of financial, technical and organizational support in the development and implementation of policies and strategies.
Through its Agency, the Alliance for Commodity Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa (ACTESA), COMESA Secretariat has been working with Member States and partners in harmonizing and domestication of the seed trade regulations to promote cross-border seed trade for increased access to quality seeds by the farmers.
Representatives of partners organization including the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) and the African Union Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) among others attended the meeting.