By Athian Kuol Athian Mawien
You can’t build a peaceful world on empty stomachs and human misery -Dr Norman Ernest Borlaug.
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), defines food security as when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preference for an active and healthy life.
We face many challenges as a country but none dire than the threat of food insecurity. One in every three people in this country is considered severely food insecure. The statistics paint a very serious situation. There are many factors that have hindered the realization of food security but the subsequent violence that followed the outbreak of war in 2013 has been the major factor that has exacerbated the suffering of the people.
We are a very well-endowed country in arable land, yet our production is very low. Improved cultivation and management are required. We need to harness and exploit technology to transform our subsistence way of farming. Improvement on our agricultural structures is key to achieving food security; these include but not limited to facilitation of access to markets and price information.
Government should adopt policy that promotes investment in agriculture. Price policy, provision of access to fertilizers and agricultural credit access and this can be done through the existing Agricultural Bank, Tax breaks from importation of agricultural items and incentives through longer work permits. These policies will attract private sector investment throughout the entire value chain of the sector.
The above policies should be incorporated in a well-designed program that should be inclusive of all stakeholders in the agricultural sector. It should be implemented with the desire of benefiting the small scale farmer that make up the majority and also bring on board private sector players.
Tens of youth graduate yearly with degrees and diplomas in agricultural studies. Their skills and knowledge should be tapped by government to train and form institutes to teach modern agricultural practices. These graduates and skill already in the field is human capital that the government should not let go to waste.
It is hard to dispute the economic leverage of agriculture for development and growth. It is therefore only wise to give food security a high priority political discussion. Agricultural revolutions take time but with the right attitude and country’s leadership it happens and these benefits are immense.
The writer is an economist reachable via email: email@example.com