Attendees of the African Regional Consultation

26 February 2019 – Dr Dennis Rangi, CABI’s Director General, Development, has told CABI’s African Regional Consultation in Botswana that strong, inclusive and empowering partnerships are key to tackling not only Africa’s but the world’s food crisis where some 815 million suffer chronic undernourishment.

Dr Rangi, told government representatives from CABI Member Countries, from Botswana to Zimbabwe, and delegates from partner organisations, including the African Union Commission (AUC) and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), that countries must forge greater partnerships to ensure the food security of more than 1.2 billion in Africa and 7.7 billion globally.

He stressed that governments, researchers, scientists, public and private sector companies, farmers and extension workers all have important roles to play in working towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal of Zero Hunger and that an ongoing commitment to SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals is vital in the fight against food security-threatening agricultural pests and diseases.

‘With the challenge of achieving Zero Hunger by 2030 upon us all, CABI’s belief and focus on the need for greater partnership working, collaboration and the sharing of data and expertise has never been in sharper focus’, Dr Rangi said. ‘I know that through the power of partnerships we can make a difference in helping farmers produce more and lose less to pests and diseases, reduce food waste and adopt more healthy and sustainable diets to feed not only Africa but the world.’

Delegates at the Cresta Lodge Hotel in Gaborone heard how CABI and its partners are helping to tackle global food security amidst the challenge of the need to produce 50 percent more food, feed and biofuel to meet a growing global population expected to reach 9 billion by 2050.

Minister of Agriculture Development and Food Security, Botswana, Hon Patrick Pule Ralotsia, in his keynote address, agreed that the solutions to enhancing food production and reducing or reversing land degradation in order to feed a rapidly growing African population is a challenge that can only be tackled in partnership.

Mr Ralotsia said, ‘Further partnerships between policy makers, researchers and technical experts will be required to ensure systems are in place to prevent the risks of pests spreading between countries. After all, pests know no boundaries.

‘Botswana is a country that values working in partnership and that is why we are so pleased to host the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The SADC is a community that aims to achieve economic development, peace, security and growth, as well as alleviate poverty and enhance the standard and quality of life of the peoples of Southern Africa. We were, therefore, also very pleased that CABI signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the SADC to cooperate on areas of mutual interest, for example on food security, trade and environmental management including invasive species.

‘CABI’s role in helping to foster the involvement of countries outside of Africa and south-south cooperation is particularly valued because these partnerships are becoming increasingly important.’

The Regional Consultation, which will be followed by a CABI Invasives Policy Summit, was also an opportunity for delegates to be updated on how CABI is helping to lead the fight against agricultural pests and diseases, such as the fall armyworm which has already devastated maize crops across 44 countries in Africa, including Botswana, through its programmes and products.

Dr Simplice Nouala Fonkou, Head of Division, Agriculture and Food Security Division at the AUC, said, ‘CABI’s African Regional Consultation is an extremely important forum for bringing together the full range of government officials, agencies and strategic partners to work in partnership to fight invasive species, strengthen value chains and trade and ultimately ensure greater food security.’

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Photos courtesy of Otel Mark

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