Minister Senzeni Zokwana: BRICS Ministers, Agriculture and Agrarian Reform meeting

Statement by Minister Senzeni Zokwana of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries on the sixth meeting of BRICS Ministers, Agriculture and Agrarian Reform, India, New Dehli

Honourable Ministers;

Your Excellencies;

Members of the Diplomatic Corps

Distinguished delegates;

Ladies and gentlemen;

Firstly, let me start by extending a vote of thanks to the Republic of India for organising and hosting the 6th meeting of the BRICS Ministers of Agriculture and Agrarian Development and am truly honoured to be part of a gathering that seeks to build inclusive, responsive and collective solutions to some of the pressing challenges related to agrarian reform and food security.

Honourable Ministers;

The fact that our respective governments have entrusted us with the responsibility to participate in this seminal meeting means that we have to fulfil our obligations to build better lives for our citizens.

Distinguished delegates;

We have jointly been mandated to implement various programs under the 2012 – 2016 Action Plan for Agriculture, the question that arises is whether we have a story or a good story to tell.

Your Excellencies;

In line with the South African Theme “reducing the negative impacts of climate change to agriculture and food security” we are currently implementing the resolutions of the 2015 Fourteenth World Forestry Congress which include: the importance of integrating agriculture and forest production to support smallholder family farms to diversify their income streams sustainably while also ensuring food security.

Measures are put in place to curb the declining marine fisheries and aquaculture resources.

Over and above this, we have developed Climate Smart Strategies that are aimed at crafting contingency plans for the extreme weather events. Further, South Africa has been implementing the results of the Sensitivity of Crops Suitability Report. Our country is participating in the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) commemoration of the Word Food Day on the 14th October 2016 under the “Climate is changing. Food and Agriculture must too”.

Esteemed delegates;

As part of our efforts to reignite economic growth from the current low levels of performance to high performance, South Africa is implementing the Nine Point Plan geared towards Revitalisation of Agriculture and Agro-processing Value Chains (RAAVC) which aims to expand market sharing through coordinated strategic interventions.

Ladies and gentlemen;

South Africa applauds member states for putting together a draft Memorandum of Understanding for the Establishment of the BRICS Agricultural Research Platform. We remain confident that the establishment of such a platform will help to address the nutritional needs of global citizens particularly those of the poor and marginalised in the developing world.

Honourable ministers;

We remain resolute that the next phase of our Action Plan for Agriculture Cooperation will address the reduction of poverty, inequality, unemploymentand promote trade.

We believe that this can be achieved through:

” Developing mechanisms that will enhance the design of water efficient irrigation and drainage infrastructure and systems,

” Developing and exchanging programs that will promote the sustainable use of natural resources

” Applying yield-promoting technologies in order to guarantee food security

” Rehabilitating degraded land in order to improve soil fertility,

” Exchanging technologies to reduce post-harvest losses along the different industries’ value chains,

” Use the BRICS mechanism to deepen intra-BRICS trade by ensuring that we work tirelessly to address trade reducing constraints in the form of tariffs and other forms of barriers to trade.

We therefore remain grateful of the progress made with regards to the establishment of the BRICS Development Bank. Indeed, the establishment of such a bank is said to set in motion the process of forming the BRICS African Regional Centre. South Africa believes that the establishment of such a centre will help to service a majority of aspiring entrepreneurs in the African continent.

In closing, I am hopeful that the inputs delivered by our respective member states will make a meaningful contribution towards strengthening agricultural cooperation.

I thank you.

Source: Government of South Africa