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Market reforms, research policies and SADCC food security
May 1991
Edited by Mandivamba Rukuni and JB Wyckoff
University of Zimbabwe UZ/MSU Food Security Research in Southern Africa Project


Preface

The importance of Food Security was recognized at the inception of the SADCC more than 10 years ago. The establishment of Food Security Technical and Administrative Unit (FSTAU) in 1982 followed by the Food Security Research in Southern Africa Project in 1985 is evidence of SADCC's commitment. This Sixth Annual Conference on Food Security Research in Southern Africa provided the forum for reporting the results of ongoing research throughout the region. Participants from 15 nations in Africa, Europe, North America and Asia benefited from the research and policy dialogue the Conference engendered.

The Vice Chancellor of the University of Zimbabwe opened the Conference by alerting the audience to SADCC/ SACCAR's "Blueprint for Developing Professional Human Resources for the Agricultural Sector in SADCC". This massive 20 year undertaking is expected to move SADCC's agricultural sector into a competitive position with other regions of the World. The Honourable Witness Mangwende, Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement and Chairman of the SADCC Programme of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources, helped place the Conference in perspective with his discussion " Taking Stock of Regional Food Security of Regional Food Security After Ten Years of SADCC".

An important data base for assessing the status of country and regional food security has been developed for SADCC through FSTAU's region wide Early Warning System. Having just completed its first five years of operation, an appraisal of the system's contribution and an indication of future directions was most appropriate.

It has long been recognized that Food Security within SADCC consists of two elements- food availability and access to the available food. The Third session concentrated on "Food Access and Nutrition: Policy/ Program Linkages". Bringing together those who are responsible for food production, marketing and distribution with those measuring the physical impacts of lack of access to sufficient food, is long overdue. Speakers examined these linkages, informed the participants of new food security and nutrition policies that are being implemented within SADCC and identified issues of continuing concern.

Session IV and V provide the opportunity for food security researchers from five SADCC countries to report their most recent findings. Changes in Grain Marketing Policies are occurring throughout the region. Markets are being liberalized and private traders are being permitted to enter markets previously reserved for parastatal monopolies. The implications of these policy changes for household food security were discussed for several countries. Empirical studies of the impact of farm management in communal areas, production instability and increasing crop diversification and productivity on household food security, were reported.

The Conference was "wrapped up" by a well attended session on "Agricultural Research Priority Setting and Household Food Security". Theoretical models and practical applications for setting research priorities were reported by well qualified practitioners from the university system, international agencies, regional research organizations, national research units and private sector research firms. This discussion will significantly influence agricultural and food research within SADCC for many years.

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