/ 18 October 2013

Interventions for food security

Interventions For Food Security

The mandate of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) is to improve nutrition, increase agricultural productivity, raise the standard of living in rural populations and contribute to global economic growth.

The FAO South African office is involved in a number of initiatives within the FAO's mandate, which contribute to food security through building the capacity of officials who support smallholder farmers.

Support to officials
Climate change poses many threats to agriculture, including the reduction of agricultural productivity, production stability and incomes in areas of the world that already have high levels of food insecurity and limited means of coping with adverse weather.

Being able to transform agriculture to feed a growing population in the face of a changing climate without hindering the natural resource base will not only achieve food security goals, but also help mitigate the negative effects of climate change.

More productive and resilient agriculture will need better management of natural resources, such as land, water, soil and genetic resources through practices, such as conservation agriculture, integrated pest management, agroforestry and sustainable diets.

FAO introduced the Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) concept, which is an important subject within the framework of supporting extension officers and smallholder development. This concept was launched by the FAO in 2010.

CSA defines an agriculture that "sustainably increases productivity, resilience (adaptation), reduces and removes GHGs (mitigation), and enhances achievement of national food security and development goals".

CSA training was hosted in the colleges of the participating provinces such as Cedara in KwaZulu-Natal from June 10 14 2013 and Lowveld in Mpumalanga, from July 18 to 21 2013.

Officials from the respective colleges (Cedara, Owen Sithole and Lowveld) and a total of 42 officials attended the training (28 from KwaZulu-Natal and 14 from Mpumalanga).

Their expertise ranges from livestock, citrus, vegetables and crop production, extension and agricultural engineering.

The FAO, through the Capacity Building project and the Telefood Programme supported beneficiaries with 150 earthboxes.

Projects that benefited from this initiatives were Matibidi Home Based Care A and B, Leroro and Moremela.

The EarthBox gardening system is a portable, re-usable, maintenance-free and container gardening system that produces a 60% higher yield than a conventional garden using half the fertiliser and 40% less water.

This extraordinary product has the potential to halt poverty and dependency by making truly self-sustaining food production possible on a subsistence or commercial scale.

This article forms part of a supplement paid for by the department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries. Contents and photographs were supplied and signed off by the department