MASERU – Lesotho’s Ambassador to Italy, Chief Thesele ’Maseribane, has encouraged Basotho to take advantage of World Food Programme (WFP)’s Rapid Rural Transformation (RRT) policy meant to address food insecurity in Southern African by engaging micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs). He said the nation should acknowledge that the RRT policy that was tabled by regional director at the WFP annual session last week Friday was to Lesotho’s advantage.
‘Maseribane said because of its terrain and poverty levels adoption of the policy by the country is bound to empower most of its rural communities, so Lesotho stands to benefit more. “Lesotho is the coordinator of the region and we need to take advantage to support this policy (RRT) by engaging MSMEs in the country side,” he said. He was speaking in an interview with Public Eye this week following a round table discussion on food security issues in Southern Africa with Southern African Development community (SADC) ambassadors to Italy, the coordinator of the SADC in Italy, Rome, ’Maseribane, as well as the United Nations World Food Programme’s (WFP) regional director for Southern Africa Africa Menghestab Haile.
The round table discussion followed the presentation of WFP operations in Southern Africa to the WFP executive board, and ‘Maseribane called for more development initiatives toward long-term transformative rural initiatives. He said vulnerability of the African region to multiple shocks such as cyclones, floods and droughts, illustrates that short-term emergency interventions are critical to save lives, but they are unable to address long-term chronic food and nutrition insecurity.
He added that food is a basic right yet the poorest people in the world spend more than half of their income on food, noting that when crisis strikes, food insecurity forces people to deplete their natural resources, and reduce their investment in the future, including health and education. Public Eye has been told that the SADC ambassadors in Italy highlighted that challenges faced by the Southern Africa region with regard to food security require a people-centred rural transformation approach based on equity and inclusiveness.
The ambassadors encouraged WFP to continue to support rural transformation and assist in creating market for the produce of the rural people to ensure hunger and poverty alleviation. They also reiterated the need to implement the African Union Development Agency-NEPAD’s rural future programme and Kinshasa Declaration on Rural Transformation, to elevate the status of rural areas through facilitating for the reduction of rural poverty and inequality.
Public Eye has also learned that WFP Regional Director Haile informed the ambassadors that the WFP is working closely with African Union Development Agency-NEPAD and SADC to promote innovative actions and will be launching strategic interventions that will serve as models for rural transformation across Africa and will align, plan and innovate in collaboration with governments in the region and beyond.
Haile shared with the ambassadors that the WFP is in discussion with AfreximBank and African Continental Free Trade Area(AfCFTA) secretariat to harmonise their efforts for the promotion of trade and investment flows in Africa’s agricultural sector, to capacitate smallholder and other commercial farming, agro-processing, and in related areas across the agricultural value chain, with special focus on smallholder farmer.