Southern Africa’s Smallholder Farmers

Photo credit: IPS

The Dube AgriZone facility currently incorporates 16 hectares of greenhouses, making it the largest climate-controlled growing area under glass in Africa. Credit: FAO

High-Tech to the Rescue of Southern Africa’s Smallholder Farmers

Chronic and acute food insecurity remain major risks and Southern Africa still faces enormous challenges in trying to transform and commercialise its largely small holder-based agricultural systems through accelerated integration into competitive markets in a rapidly globalising world.

By Kwame Buist

EXCERPT

Agriculture is the major employer and a backbone of the economies of Southern Africa.

However, the rural areas that support an agriculture-based livelihood system for the majority of the nearly 270 million people living in the region are typically fragile and there is wide variability in the development challenges facing the countries of the region.

The agricultural sector is dominated by crop production, although the share of livestock production and other agriculture practices have been increasing.

Building on what works

As one example of the best practices under the scrutiny of the meeting, participants took part in a field visit to the Dube AgriZone facility – a high-tech agricultural development initiative pioneered by the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government.

The facility aims to stimulate the growth of KwaZulu-Natal’s perishables sector and aims to achieve improved agricultural yields, consistent quality, year-round production and improved management of disease and pests.

The facility – strategically located 30 km north of the important coastal city of Durban – currently incorporates 16 hectares of greenhouses, making it the largest climate-controlled growing area under glass in Africa.

Its primary focus is on the production of short shelf-life vegetables and cut flowers which require immediate post-harvest airlifting and supply to both domestic and export markets.

Read the full article: IPS

Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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