The Alliance for Commodity Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa (ACTESA) was launched on September 24 2008 by the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)’s Ministers of agriculture. On June 9, 2009, ACTESA was established by the Heads of State of COMESA (the COMESA Authority) as a Specialized Agency to integrate small farmers into national, regional and international markets.
On March 1, 2010 ACTESA signed an agreement with COMESA on the implementation of agricultural programmes in the region. The agreement is meant to accelerate the implementation of regional initiatives in agriculture, trade and investment.
Key areas of focus assigned to ACTESA include the development of regional agricultural policies; promotion of investments in agriculture; promotion of trade in agro commodity products and development of production and marketing structures; development of the agricultural, livestock, pastoral and fisheries sectors and consultation with the private sector and civil society organisations on agricultural development matters especially agro commodities trade.
The main goal of ACTESA is to increase farmer productivity and incomes in the Eastern and Southern Africa region through trade in strategic agricultural commodities.
ACTESA is an answer to the region’s agricultural challenges that include trade related constraints, low productivity, technological and policy related constraints. It is an important institution in a region where 85 percent of all staple crop producers are smallholders and of these, only about 15 percent produce for the market and are characterized by poor organization with no predictable selling mechanisms.
ACTESA responds to the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP)’s Pillar II and III agenda, that seek to improve rural infrastructure and trade-related capacities for market access and increase food supply, reduce hunger, and improve responses to food emergency crises respectively.
Consequently, ACTESA is the primary agency for achieving the COMESA vision of increased regional integration and improved competitiveness of staple food markets, leading to broad based growth and decreased food insecurity.
Specifically, the objectives of ACTESA are to:
- Improve competitiveness and integration of staple foods markets in the region through improved micro and macro economic policies as the drivers of staple food markets;
- Improve and expand market facilities and services for key agricultural commodities;
- Increase the commercial integration of smallholder farmers into national and regional markets.
ACTESA focuses on building market information systems, providing services and increasing commercialization of smallholders in the following sub-sectors:
- Grains and pulses
- Oil seeds
- Roots and tubers
- Livestock and fisheries
- Forest and Natural products
- Tree and plantation crops
- Agriculture inputs
ACTESA targets geographical areas within eastern and southern Africa that include a larger number of vulnerable populations but also have the potential to produce surplus staples for the market.
The target beneficiaries from these areas are farming communities in selected areas that are drought prone, emerging from conflicts, or otherwise vulnerable and may or not be receiving support from food assistance programs to improve their production systems.
By creating ACTESA, COMESA member States showed commitment to ensuring that food assistance and other types of food security interventions in the region are development oriented, and promote sustainability of food security among target beneficiaries.
ACTESA’s key financial partners include:
- The United States Agency for International Development (USAID);
- The UK’s Department for International Development (DfID)
- World Food Programme (WFP)
- The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA)
- Australian Aid (AusAID)
- The European Commission (EC)
ACTESA’s major implementing partners:
- Farmers’ Organisations;
- Trade associations;
- Commodity associations;
- Agro civil society;
- Commercial and development banks;
- Microfinance institutions;
- Market institutions;
- Seed and fertilizer associations;
- Research institutions.
The Importance of Agricultural Research to the Future of South African Farming
South Africa has a very demanding agricultural environment, with harsh and dry weather being commonplace and soils being mostly quite poor, although there are certain areas such asKwaZulu-Natalwhere conditions are better. But most of the country is very arid. In fact, to those who know those regions, it is difficult to understand the affection that many have and their insistence on attempting subsistence farming in such inhospitable areas. Even the areas with better conditions are subject to occasional storms or droughts which may destroy crops, as with the storm damage from Demoina which caused widespread damage.
Given the uncertainty of farming inSouth Africa, even commercial farmers struggle for survival, and it is very hard for under-capitalised subsistence farmers, although many suffer from the delusion that farming is easy. With this in mind, it becomes obvious that technical support and advice is imperative, and agricultural research into suitable types of farming and crops as well as animals for the different areas is particularly important.
In the Boland, for example, the major crop is wheat. But many wheat farmers farm at a loss because of low prices due to international competition and low wheat prices. Here it might seem that a switch to crops like kamut or spelt/faro might be a good move, as there is an increasing demand for these crops due to an awareness of the problems caused by gluten intolerance. Although they are varieties of wheat – kamut was the wheat grown in Ancient Egypt and faro was the wheat cultivated by the Romans – the gluten they contain seems to cause fewer problems than the gluten in the common wheat originating fromIndiawhich is grown because of its greater yields. However, prices for kamut or faro are higher and there is less competition internationally and there is also no stigma from GMO varieties, while they are also better able to withstand harsh conditions.
So the advantages of such a move would be worth researching. Other crops which are becoming increasingly popular on world markets are acai and cupuacu, which would be suitable for the subtropical regions and might be more profitable than sugar or be grown on farms which do not have a sugar quota. There are many other examples of crops which are coming more to the fore and where export demand would be substantial. Jojoba has already achieved some success, and many stock farmers benefitted from a move to game farming, with lower input costs and the animals being better able to cope under extensive conditions. Something like aquaponics could also prove suitable to produce flowers or organic vegetables for export toEurope. Although this farming method uses a lot of water initially, because the water is recirculated the actual ongoing consumption is quite limited and is much less than with conventional irrigation. And water scarcity is a particular problem in South Africa.
The agricultural research facilities and extension services have already done an excellent job for both commercial and subsistence farmers in South African. It is vitally important for the future food security for our nation that funds for this purpose not be stinted. How else can we keep pace with changes in international markets? We have the example ofZimbabwe, which generally has a better climate and soils than most ofSouth Africa, which went from being the bread-basket of the region and a huge exporter of food and other agricultural products to being absolutely dependant on food imports due to political circumstances. Let’s not let this happen here.
WHAT IS COMESA?
COMESA is an acronym for Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa. This describes a free trade area made up of twenty members of states lying within the north eastern, eastern and south eastern side of the African continent. This trading block was formed in December 1994 to replace a Preferential Trade Area (PTA) that existed since the year 1981. COMESA is a pillar to African economic and regional development.
As we have seen, this trading block consists of twenty member states spread out from the Northeastern, Eastern to the South Eastern regions of Africa. The membership includes; Kenya, Djibouti, Burundi, Comoros, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe and recently the newly formed state of South Sudan.
COMESA was established as an organization consisting of free and independent states which agreed to nurture their economic resources for the benefit of all their people. As such COMESA has very long term objectives which among others includes; promotion of a peaceful coexistence and security within the region. COMESA’s chief focus is to conglomeration of a huge economic and trading block that is well capable of overcoming all the barriers that are faced by each of the individual states.
In order to promote a sub-regional cooperation in development, COMESA is subdivided into several institutions . These include:
The trade and Development Bank- Nairobi, Kenya
The clearing house – Harare, Zimbabwe
Association of commercial banks- Harare, Zimbabwe
The Leather institute – Ethiopia
The Re-insurance company- Nairobi, Kenya
The COMESA treaty has also set up a court of justice to deal with all legal matters emanating from within this regional block. There are more initiatives that are tailored towards the formation of a common industrial policy and introduction of a monetary harmonization program.
BENEFITS OF COMESA
This trading bloc offers its member states with a wider, more competitive and harmonized market for their products.
It also creates greater industrial capacity to produce goods in a bigger market with higher levels of competition.
COMESA acts as a channel of stabilizing the agriculture sector thus creating food security within its member states.
This common market offers a more rational exploitation and utilization of natural resources found within its member states.
COMESA also facilitates for greater harmonization of the banking, monetary and financial policies within its member states.
This regional trading bloc facilitates for modern and better infrastructural development more so in the transport and communication sector so as to ensure that the member states are properly interlinked and networked.
COMESA DECISION MAKING ORGAN
This trading block has developed a comprehensive system of decision making to ensures that it runs smoothly and efficiently. This decision making organ is structured at the top level of authority with the heads of state from each member countries forming it. This organ is backed by a council of policy makers made up of ministers, 12 technical committees and several advisory bodies. Each member state is also represented by liaison persons who are appointed by their appropriate ministries to form part of a day to day communication process.
The overall co-ordination of the COMESA affairs is overseen by the Lusaka based Secretariat.
Agriculture and food production in South Africa is highly developed. The role of agriculture in South Africa in ensuring a strong food supply has been emphasized in both commercial farming and small scale subsistence farming. South Africa benefits from diverse climatic conditions that range from tropical to Mediterranean, semi-desert to savannah. These weather conditions allow for a large variety of commercial and food crops to be cultivated.
South Africa has become food sufficient and a net exporter of agricultural products. The income of farmers and producers is estimated at over 90 billion South African Rand. The agricultural sector is famed for production of horticultural crops such as fruits e.g. grapes for wines. Cereals and grains are crops that cover most of the agricultural acreage. However, the situation wasn’t always rosy.
From the sixties to late eighties, the South African agricultural industry stagnated and even declined as the manufacturing and mining sectors grew. However, with the growth of the population, food security became a pressing issue and had to be addressed through the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) in 1994. Food security was recognized as a priority policy objective. Government spending was redirected to focus on the role of agriculture in South Africa in ensuring a strong food supply to its citizens.
As there were several food security programmes running concurrently and at times roles beng overlapped, the South African Government decided to launch a more efficient and integrated food security program. It was titled the Integrated Food Security Strategy (IFSS). The vision of the IFSS was in line with the definition of food security according to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Its goal is to eradicate malnutrition, food insecurity and hunger in South Africa by 2015.
The strategic objectives of the IFSS amongst others include: – To increase domestic food production and trading – To improve the generation of income and job creation in agriculture – To improve food safety and nutrition. – To implement food emergency management systems. – To improve information management and analysis of agriculture and food production – To have stakeholder dialogue
The ways in which South Africa was to implement this strategy to strengthen food supply in the present and future was to approach several issues simultaneously.
The two major steps that were put into consideration were:
1. Improve Household Food Production and Distribution Rural food insecurity in South Africa is to be overcome by incrasing the number of households that undertake productive agriculture for themselves and for trade. Such households in rural regions are to be empowered by increasing access to small scale irrigation systems, training of small scale farmers on green and sustainable technologies. Such new technologies would enable them to continuously produce food even in lean times. Access to credit and finance is also to be improved. Marginalized groups especially women are to be harnessed in this drive to commercialize food production in rural areas.
2. Enhance food emergency management systems The collection and dissemination of the food situation is critical in ensuring proper planning of the supply. Periodic programme evaluation and studies will be conducted from regional to national level so as to design appropriate measures to counter food insecurity.
The South African food supply has improved and so has food security and nutrition. With further implementation of programmes under the IFSS, the future is bright for South African agriculture.
Agriculture has always played a core role in East and Central Africa and is one of the main economic activities in these areas and the larger African continent. The two major types of farming in the continent are subsistence farming which is done mainly in a small scale and is mainly to feed a family and commercial farming where cash crops are grown almost exclusively for sale.
In South Africa, the land that is mainly used for agricultural practices such as growing crops is slightly over fifty percent but good arable land is a mere twenty percent. The crops that are grown are maize, wheat, oats, fruits, sugarcane and sunflowers. Cattle ranching, dairy farming, sheep, pig, chicken and game farming are also practiced widely. Aqua farming is the growing of particular edible fish species for sale. This type of farming is also very prevalent in South Africa.
South Africa is one of the countries in the continent that rarely suffers from mass famine and drought as compared to countries in the horn of Africa. This is because it has a fairly stable political system that promotes agricultural development. The people have also mastered the ability to use methods, such as irrigation, to use land that would otherwise not be suitable for farming to grow crops and rear animals. In fact, about fifty percent of the nation’s water is used for farming purposes.
The country has seven different climates and as a result of the unpredictable weather, many farmers have opted to rear animals and livestock farming is one of the biggest earners in the country. Hardy animals are preferred because they are able to survive in the country. Breeds such as Holstein, Jersey, Guernsey and Ayrshire are the most popular for dairy farming because they are hardy animals and they produce high volumes of milk. While indigenous breeds such as Afrikaner, Nguni, Bonsmara and Drakensberger are reared and also cross bred with European and American breeds such as Charolais, Hereford, Angus and others. The cross bred breeds will be able to become superior because they combine the best of the indigenous and foreign breeds. South Africa is one of the biggest exporters of ostrich products such as meat and feathers.
For women to become more involved in farming in South Africa the infrastructure has to be developed and where it exists, increased. This is to enable the movement of goods that are farmed to become expedited. This is because farm crops, horticultural products and animals that have been slaughtered will spoil quickly and the transportation needs to be quick and efficient. Even wool and ostrich feathers, which South Africa is a big exporter of, need careful and fast transportation. The women also need increased trade incentives so as to engage in farming activities. Teaching them new and efficient farming methods and helping them keep up with new technology is another way to help women in South Africa become a bigger force in farming.
As is evident above, the government must work together with non governmental organizations in helping women to become farmers in South Africa.
Food security is a problem that is facing most African nations. In fact, most of the countries have lived with it for decades. South Africa among the African states that are frequently faced with food shortages. Shortage of food is mainly as a result of inability of a country to produce enough food that is able to feed its citizens and also raise the economy. This is caused by several factors, one of which is poor climate and environmental conditions that sustain food production. This requires that South Africans and any other organizations across the globe involved in ensuring food security have to be able to come up with various systems that can help in ensuring that the nation’s food production is elevated to a level that sustains the population that is increasingly expanding.
South Africa is a nation that has got a dual agricultural economy. It has a properly developed commercial as well as subsistence farming that is able to feed the population. However, this is not enough to cater for the needs of the entire population. It requires that more efforts need to be put in the agricultural industry since it is the backbone of the nation’s food production. South Africa is able to improve food production by strengthening the small scale farmers.
Strengthening of small scale farmers will ensure households are able to produce food that can properly support them while at the same time engaging in food production for commercial purposes to cater for other needs thereby increasing the country’s economy. There are several ways in which small scale farmers can be strengthened including provision of farming incentives like agricultural machinery, fertilizers, crops, livestock among others.
There are various forms of agriculture that can be conducted in South Africa including livestock rearing, aquaculture, game farming, poultry and pig keeping, sheep and goat rearing and even crop cultivation. Currently, livestock rearing is doing better than crop cultivation in the country. On the other hand, crop cultivation is also not doing so bad. However, it needs to be raised to a standard that can ensure adequate food production. With the poor climate and environmental conditions in South Africa, most of the crop cultivation activities are conducted through irrigation. When the irrigation is intensified in the particular areas that have got poor rainfall pattern, there is a possibility that food production will be increased. The farmers also need to be equipped with proper information on the ideal crops that do well in the different regions to ensure that they are able to maximize their crop cultivation efforts.
Even though the livestock sector is performing very well, there is still need to strengthen it to ensure that production can be increased. The livestock sector can be strengthened by giving the farmers comprehensive information on the breeds of cattle, sheep and even goats that are able to do well in the regions that are so much affected by droughts. Therefore, they will be able to increase the level of food production. However, there is still a lot that can be done to improve the production of food in South Africa.
How The Income Of Poor Farmers Can Be Improved In South Africa
Almost each and every member of the COMESA relies on agriculture as its main source of food and income. It is sad that, however common farming is in Africa, these countries still grapple with importing food or asking for food donations from other countries such as Europe when they are faced with drought, floods or in most cases do not have enough food for its citizens.
South Africa has made a great step in food dependency but one of the key challenges is how the income of poor farmers can be improved in South Africa who are the majority in this area. Just like other counties in member states of the COMESA, most farmers have small pieces of land and can only afford to practice small scale farming for livestock and crops farming. South Africa in this case has got both large scale commercial farmers who own large tracts of land and making millions of SA. Rand while many small scale farmers struggle to even have their crops doing well in their farmers leave alone getting a ready market for their bounty harvest.
First, farmers need to be given training on key successful farming tips based on their locality. There are different kinds of soil in East and South African countries; this makes it impossible for all countries to have the same kind of farm produce in the market. Countries such as Kenya have been known to produce the best tea in the world but little has been done to improve the current farming trends on tea farming in that region. South Africa’s poor farmers may not exactly have the knowledge on successful farming and they may also be lacking the tools to improve the harvest. Since most of them are poor and illiterate are poor, you cannot expect them to get into the internet or joining agricultural classes. We must find grass root education methods to enhance their livelihood through the best farming methods and give them the tools.
Enhance technology innovations into these farmers: Many farmers are traditional farmers and they will plant the same kind of crop on the same piece of land year round for as long as their generation exists. We have had recent innovations and ideas on how the income of poor farmers can be improved in South Africa. Let’s take for example livestock farming, many poor farmers would prefer keeping hundreds of heads of cattle as a sign of wealth but do not look at the value of income they can get on a day to day basis from those cows. They need to introduce new technologies of livestock farming where they aim at meat or milk production with hybrid cows.
This strategy may seem expensive but it is possible if they change from traditional believes and methods of farming then contributes more to the economy and improve their daily income. Efforts have to be made to stop rural to urban migration and revert youths into commercial farming aimed at food and income generation.
South Africa is a country whose agricultural environment is very dynamic. However, the most significant aspect of the dynamics of agriculture is that it is mainly characterized with negative results more than the positives. This is because of various factors including shifts in rainfall patterns, droughts, government policies among others. To ensure that agriculture in South Africa experiences any significant growth, there is still much that needs to be done by the farmers, the South African government, several agricultural organizations and the entire South African population. This is important because agriculture plays a vital role towards shaping the economy of South Africa.
Agriculture is a wide sector and consists of both livestock rearing and aquaculture. However, in South Africa, livestock farming is the largest in the sector with a total of 13.8 million cattle, 28.8 million sheep among others. One way that the livestock farmers are able to improve the sector is by laying more emphasis on the development of breeds that are able to adapt well to the dynamic climate and environmental conditions being experienced in the region. In fact, with much focus onto this, South African farmers are able to promote the agricultural efforts since their production will not be largely affected by climate that is the major problem facing them currently. These breeds that are resistant to change in climate and environmental conditions should consist of cattle that are reared for beef and dairy, goats, and also sheep. The Afrikaner, the Afrino goat and sheep breeds are able to survive the harsh environment.
South Africa is also known for practicing game farming. In fact the country has got a wide variety of game species compared to various states in Africa. Due to this, laying more emphasis on this kind of farming could also be a great effort in promoting agriculture in South Africa. Currently, there is a descriptive model of game production that has been introduced in the country to help in improving the sector. However, there is still much effort needed to ensure that the game farming is significantly developed not only from 8% to 15% as but to even higher percentages.
Crop production in South Africa is mainly affected by poor rainfall pattern. Currently, almost half of South Africa’s water is used for Agriculture with 1.3 million hectares under irrigation. When extensive irrigation is emphasized, there will be significant improvement in South Africa’s crop production. There should also be introduction of crops that are able to survive well in the different types of soils to boost the sector even further. Currently, the government is working on the development of small-scale farming that will be a better tool in boosting job creation in the agriculture sector.
Apart from just the above mentioned, there is still much that can be done and reinforced to ensure an improvement in South Africa’s agricultural sector like the opening of better markets for the agricultural produce among others. All these steps are meant to improve and promote agriculture in South Africa for the better of the present and the future.
For anyone living in Africa and especially Eastern and Southern parts of the continent, agriculture plays a very major role in the development of these regions. It is for this reason that agricultural marketing in South Africa has been viewed as the backbone of the economy and this has lead to the strategic developments that are aimed at making this field stronger and reliable.
Although agriculture in South Africa has had its own share of success, the truth of the matter is that more needs to be done and is being done to make it more vibrant and reliable. There are many measures being explored with the aim of making agricultural marketing in South Africa a driving force of the economies and these measures have been bearing fruits. Some of the strategic steps that have been adopted by different governments and organizations include and not limited to the following:Although agriculture is one of the strongest sources of livelihood and income for the East and South Africa countries, the main problem has been that a lot of fertile land remains unutilized. This has seen some efforts introduced to ensure that the farming area is extended in line with sustainable land management goals. This is also to be approached through proper water and irrigation control systems since rain water has been unreliable especially over the past few years.
Empower the farming manpower by enhancing the supply of food, reducing the levels of hunger and also enhance the food emergency crises response. This will help in improving the agricultural marketing in South Africa and make farming more vibrant and sustainable.
Over the years, infrastructure has been a great problem in many rural areas within East and South Africa and this has led to the wastage of food produces from the farming regions. With the improvement of road networks and other rural infrastructure such as storage, more has been achieved and the vision is to enhance this even the more over the next few years. As a strategy for agricultural marketing in South Africa, funds have also been increased to help in enhancing agricultural research that is aimed at improving the quality of food production in different areas. The innovative marketing efforts of countries such as the US have shown that any product can gain a foot hold in the market with the right promotion and infrastructure supporting it. Specialized products such as K9 grass for dogs have been marketed cleverly by colourful characters such as Gibson the world’s largest great dane (www.gibsondog.com). With clever marketing and the technology to develop an innovative product that the market is hungry for this is just one example of how a product can thrive. Technology has also been a major problem in the farming sector but this is changing with time. The adoption of technology in the farming sector has also been a major focus and this has helped in the achievement of great results.
Many governments have also embraced the fertilizer and seed subsidies which have made it easier for farmers to improve their input in the farming industry. This has been hailed as a major way of improving agricultural marketing in South Africa to date. Although donors have been against this method, those countries that have broken rank with them have enjoyed the benefits offered by the subsidies.
It has also been argued that the protection of farmers from foreign competition will go a long way in enhancing agriculture in Africa something that is indeed true. The foreign competition has been one of the major killers of agriculture in Africa and especially when the governments allow for the importation of cheap food substances from countries outside the continent. This has in return disheartened farmers who see their hard earned produces wasting away without proper marketing avenues. With the protection of the local farmers, agricultural marketing in South Africa will truly be a great opportunity that will help the continent.
South Africa has a large area under farming. The region under farming demonstrates a biodiversity that include crop cultivation and livestock keeping. With seven climatic locations, South Africa can be a source of food to even feed other parts of the world. Today, apart from exporting agricultural products, South Africa is virtually self sufficient in major farm products.
It is only after considering this that one realizes the importance of farming infrastructure in South Africa. A good farming infrastructure in South Africa will have several benefits not only for South Africa government and their population, but also for other countries.
With good infrastructure farmers in South Africa will be able to gain access to important farm inputs from the market. Poor infrastructure means farmers may not have access to fertilizers and chemicals they need for their crops and livestock. However, when infrastructure is improved, farmers will get access to the market any time they need anything from there. This will result to improved and quality production. The importance of farming infrastructure in South Africa can be seen when farmers are transporting their farm produce to the market. Some farm produce requires fast transportation to the market. If delayed for some time they go bad. This loss affects not only on the farmers, but the government as well. This is because there are customers from other countries who rely on fruits and vegetables from South Africa. If such customers do not get supply, government and traders will lose their revenue as well.
Good infrastructure will also ensure good communication. Trade and large scale agricultural activities are connected. With good communication infrastructure, farmers will be able to communicate with traders who purchase their produce. They will also be able to inquire about the price of various produce in the market so that they can know how to sell theirs. There are also farmers who prefer ordering farm input from their farms. Without a good farming infrastructure, such farmers may not be able to get such produce. The importance of farming infrastructure in South Africa is also seen with the exchange programs between farmers. Farmers are able to tour different farms learning farming techniques used by other farmers. Farming extension officers are also review farms of different farmers thus disseminating important information to them. This ensures adoption of good farming techniques increasing production.
With good farming infrastructure, farmers can communicate or visit other farmers at a personal level. May be there are crops that they may not be having in their farms. Or maybe there are breeds of animals farmers can get from their fellow farmers. They may also learn new ways of achieving better productivity in their farms. Thus, with improved farming infrastructure, farmers will have the freedom and easy access to information.
The importance of farming infrastructure in South Africa is a major factor that should be considered when looking for ways of increasing agricultural productivity in this region. Without good infrastructure, production will be low and even what is produced may not get to the market and industries in good condition.