Speech by Mr Senzeni Zokwana, MP Honourable Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries at the opening of the 3rd AFAAS Africa-Wide Agricultural Extension Week combined with the 51st Annual Conference of the South African Society for Agricultural Extension at Tsogo Sun Elangeni & Maharani Hotels (Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa)
The Minister of Cooperative Governance & Traditional Affairs
Minister of Public Works
The Premier of the KwaZulu-Natal Province
MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development in KwaZulu-Natal
MEC for Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development in Northern Cape
MEC for Rural, Environmental and Agricultural Development in North West
MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs
Chairperson Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in absentia
The Executive Mayor of eThekwini Metro Municipality
Members of the Traditional Leadership
The Chairperson of the African Forum for Agricultural Advisory services (AFAAS)
The President of the South African Society for Agricultural Extension (SASAE)
Ladies and gentlemen;
This is the year for commemorating the late freedom stalwart, Oliver Reginald Tambo, who led the African National Congress Liberation Movement as its longest serving President during its exile supported in your countries by you brothers and sisters gathered here.
The people and the Government of the Republic of South Africa at large are pleased and humbled to be chosen as the host country for the 3rd African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services (AFAAS) Africa-Wide Extension Week which is combined with the 51st Annual Conference of the South African Society of Agricultural Extension (SASAE). This Continental Multi-stakeholder Forum could not have come at a better time; when most countries of our Continent are ravaged by challenges of severe drought and climate change. This is a very opportune time indeed when South African Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is the co-host of this key milestone under the theme: Scaling up Climate Smart Agriculture: integrating youth, women, and the digital revolution.
The Paris Agreement defines a universal, legal framework to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change. It establishes the obligation of parties to contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation. All countries are expected to develop plans on how to contribute to climate change mitigation.
The 21st Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change hosted by South Africa in 2011 in Durban achieved an unprecedented outcome that not only significantly advanced the global effort needed urgently to address the immediate global climate change crisis; but also set a new long-term pathway for the development of a fair, ambitious and legally binding future multi-lateral and rules-based global climate change system which can balance climate and development imperatives.
According to BioWatch (South Africa), the concept was developed by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO). BioWatch (SA) has further noted some developments at Continental level and in South Africa.
The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) has convened an Africa Climate Smart Agriculture Alliance under its Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). It was launched at the June 2014 AU Summit in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. The African Alliance aims at scaling up Climate Smart Agriculture to at least six million smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2021. At the moment, the scaling up programmes is focusing on Nigeria, Ethiopia and Zambia. South Africa is included in the next batch of selected countries as from 2018.
The African Union Heads of State and Government have endorsed the NEPAD’s programme on agriculture and climate change. The programme puts emphasis on gender sensitive Climate Smart Agriculture, support to �smallholder farmers and the setting up of an African Climate Smart Agriculture Coordination Platform. This supports the African vision articulated in Agenda 2063, The Africa we want where there is no hunger by 2063 and the target of increasing farming households practising CSA by 25 million by 2025.
Ladies and gentlemen, the African Climate Smart Agriculture Alliance programmes seek to influence national country policies to create an evidence base of resources, conservation agriculture, training of scientists, and facilitate a co-ordinated African position on Climate Smart Agriculture in climate negotiations.
In South Africa, the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) led National Climate Change Response White Paper which highlights the need to invest in and increase research in water, nutrient and soil conservation technologies and techniques. This means the development of climate resistant crops, livestock and the financing models to promote the development of CSA. There are also well developed approaches to agriculture through different Climate Smart Agriculture approaches noted in Agricultural Policy Action Plan (APAP) 2014.
In South Africa, we can proudly say that we have long put in place progressive, innovative and proactive policies and plans to deal with an ever-changing climate. These policies are guided by the overarching principle of sustainable development, which is the cornerstone of Vision 2030 contained in the National Development Plan (NDP).
We have a National Strategy for Sustainable Development, a National Climate Change Response Policy, Green Economy Strategy, and Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) � which outlines our country’s energy mix. This is in addition to our Industrial Policy and Action Plan that recognises that energy efficiency and less-carbon intensive production are central tenets of a green economy. A National Adaptation Strategy has been developed to guide South Africa’s efforts to plan for and adapt to the impacts of climate change. Our approach balances our contribution as a responsible global citizen to the international effort to curb emissions, with the need to address economic growth, job creation, and poverty alleviation.
In 2015 the United Nations adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including a goal on climate change, as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity. It also seeks to strengthen universal peace, recognising that eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty, is the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development. South Africa contributes to several of these Sustainable Development Goals 1, 2, 5, 12, 13, 14, and 17 through its National Policy on Food and Nutrition Security.
Ladies and gentlemen, the African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services (AFAAS) is a continental platform for mutual learning and innovation among agricultural extension and advisory services providers across Africa. The AFAAS’ goal is to enhance utilisation of improved knowledge systems and innovations for increasing productivity towards individual and national development objectives. AFAAS operates through multi-stakeholder country fora that embrace public and private actors in the national agricultural innovation systems.
Talking about multi-stakeholder fora, I wish to mention that the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has facilitated the development of a National Policy on Extension and Advisory Services which was approved by Cabinet in October 2016. This policy will guide and regulate the provision of Extension and Advisory Services and is currently being implemented in the country. The policy advocates for a pluralistic approach in the provision of Extension and Advisory Services. I am pleased to announce that my Department (DAFF) have established Provincial Extension Co-ordinating Forums (PECF) as institutional implementation mechanisms in all nine (9) Provinces. A similar structure will be established at a national level to ensure linkages on topical issues affecting extension and advisory services at various levels (national, provincial and local level). The purpose of the PECF is to:
(i) Articulate priorities,
(ii) Outline the co-ordination of planning and action with regard to the provision of extension and advisory services in the designated geographic area, and
(iii) Help local interest groups secure advice and support from higher levels.
The PECF is comprised of Extension Practitioners that act as facilitators in building partnerships with private sector, researchers, Farmer Organisations (such as Grain SA, Citrus Growers Association, South African Sugar Association, markets (inputs and outputs) and credit institutions to address producer problems.
The latest development is the Draft Policy on Comprehensive Producer Development Support (PCPDS) which provides a framework on the support models for the three (3) producer categories (Vulnerable Households, Smallholder and Commercial).
Ladies and gentlemen, climate change has become a threat to the productivity and long-term sustainability of the agricultural, forestry and fisheries sector, particularly the household and smallholder producers. The adoption of climate-smart agricultural practices is therefore of great importance. This makes it critical that, more than before, the curriculum for the training of Extension Practitioners and Advisors of the future at tertiary institutions should incorporate climate smart agriculture and sustainability related issues. Gone are the days of a primary production-oriented only extension and advisory services. A full value chain approach should be the model for training that improves the value-add of extension and advisory services and promotes sustainability in the long term.
Similarly, the participation of vulnerable groups (i.e. youth, women and persons with disabilities) is critical. Indigenous knowledge systems should be recognised and be at the centre of climate-smart debates. Therefore, this should form part of the extension and advisory services package, not just be an appendage or an afterthought.
Programme Director, the recently launched United Nations (UN) report titled World Population Prospects: the 2017 Revision projects that the current world population of 7.6 billion will reach 8.6 billion by 2030 and 9.8 billion by 2050. More than half of the global population growth between now and 2050 is expected to occur in Africa, particularly in the Sub-Saharan Africa. The impact of climate change together with the envisaged population growth will indeed have considerable challenge to governments in implementing the developmental objectives, particularly the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Ladies and gentlemen, the conference would not have lived up to its expectation if it does not come up with pragmatic and innovative means of addressing the threat posed by climate change and the expected growth in population especially in developing regions.
As you will be visiting about five (5) projects on Wednesday the 1st of November 2017, AFAAS in collaboration with the Government of South Africa and other relevant stakeholders gathered here today are expected to identify legacy projects on Climate Smart Agriculture. These projects, (which will be implemented in South Africa) should integrate climate change adaptation within existing development planning and implementation processes, by including key approaches that enhance adaptive capacity, enhance livelihoods, and reduce the risk of and adverse effects from climate-related disasters. These include ecosystem-based adaptation, sound catchment management, community-based adaptation, conservation agriculture and climate smart agriculture (including forestry and fisheries), among others.
We also expect AFAAS to support and strengthen the National Extension and Advisory Services Forum (NAEASF) which will be launched this evening.
I wish you all a successful conference and I am looking forward to receiving the recommendations and resolutions of this conference on which the Honourable Deputy Minister will be presiding during the closing ceremony. This shows that the Government of the Republic of South Africa’s (RSA) commitment is not only limited to financial support and planning but have a political commitment too.
Thank you for choosing our country to host the 3rd Agricultural Extension Week and I hope you will not go home without visiting our warm waters and boost local economy of the province.
I thank you!
Source: Government of South Africa