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Zimbabwe to implement sustainable food systems transformation mechanisms as per UN obligations.

June 22, 2021

By Wallace Mawire

Dr Anxious Masuka, Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement

Zimbabwe has initiated processes to implement sustainable food systems transformation mechanisms according to United Nations obligations.

  On 3 June, 2021, the country held its first stage food system national summit dialogue convened by the ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement with support from the Food and Agriculture Organization   and the United Nations Development Programme.

 According to Clemence Bwenje, National Curator for the initiative under the ministry of Agriculture, following the first national dialogue, the country will also hold provincial level dialogues followed by a final validation of the programme.

  According to Dr Anxious Masuka, Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement the  national food system dialogue was held under the  theme:  “Transforming Production and Food Systems in Zimbabwe”.

 Dr Masuka said that this is the first of three national food systems dialogues that will be hosted in Zimbabwe.

 He said that thes United Nations Food Systems Dialogue Summit  approach was adopted to enable systematic and inclusive opportunities for stakeholders to be engaged in food systems.

 “The approach enables participants to contribute to the summit by building on efforts already underway, working together on pathways that lead to sustainable food systems, and setting out intentions and commitments for development,” he said.

  It is reported that in the run-up to the UN Secretary-General’s Food Systems Summit 2021 to be held in September, UN Member States are expected to focus on how their national food systems can, in the coming decade, align with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

  According to Dr Masuka, the national food systems dialogues are a critical element of the summit preparatory process because they encourage analyses, explorations and solutions that are context-specific.

  He added that recognizing that the success of the food systems summit depends on the engagement of citizens all over the world, the United Nations has invited member states to convene a national ‘three-stage’ dialogue process that involves the participation of a broad base of stakeholders.

  The three stages are stage one involving  the initiation stage which involves the exploration of national food systems.

  These also involve identification of issues affecting food systems and present existing national plans for sustainable food systems. An analysis of the current state of national food systems, including their purpose, the way they function, their potential as well as vulnerabilities will be explored.

Stage two  is the extensive exploration phase and the purpose of this stage is to create an opportunity for engagement among an even broader set of stakeholders through sub-national level or provincial level dialogues. This stage will identify promising approaches and potential commitments as contributions to the development of national pathways especially in the face of devolution.

  Stage threeis the final dialogue at national level and it gives pathways, intentions and commitments.

  This stage is for national authorities and stakeholder leaders to exchange views about the pathways towards sustainable national food systems by 2030 and to identify the intentions and commitments of different actors.

  It is reported that at this stage, participants will consolidate outputs from the previous dialogues and agree on issues where consensus exists, identify issues where further dialogue could be fruitful and set out the issues that reflect unresolvable differences. Dialogue participants will explore options for contributing to the national pathways for sustainable food systems.

 The minister said that Zimbabwe has communicated to the United Nations its intention to contribute to the food systems summit by convening dialogues at national and sub-national levels by organizing the local event.

  The food systems summit dialogues are reported to give an opportunity for key players in agriculture and other sectors that contribute to attainment of sustainable food system to discuss the challenges, opportunities and way forward in building and strengthening food systems in Zimbabwe.

It has been added that after the national food systems dialogues have been concluded, the findings and resolutions from the dialogues will be shared with the world at the milestone UN Food Systems Summit.  The findings will also feed into the pre-Summit meeting in Rome on the end of July 2021 and the final global Food Systems Summit in New York in September 2021, during the High-Level Week of the United Nations General Assembly.

 The minister added that the dialogues are coming at a time when the nation is grappling with the Covid-19 pandemic which in some way has also contributed to the disruption of the food systems in Zimbabwe.

  He said that this disruption in global value chains for supply have also given opportunity for localization of production for which Zimbabwe has taken advantage of as seen from the bumper harvest of 2020 season.

  He added that bringing together a diversity of stakeholders will provide an important opportunity for participants to debate, collaborate and take action towards a better future.

 He said that the dialogues will contribute towards ensuring access to safe and nutritious food for all, shift to sustainable consumption patterns, boost nature-positive production, advance equitable livelihoods and building resilience to vulnerabilities, shocks and stress.

 He added that although the emphasis is on food systems, in Zimbabwe the theme is relevant and appropriate because the country has faced perennial food insecurity as a result of inadequate production occasioned by drought and low productivity.

 “Therefore, in the context of this dialogue, Zimbabwe has an opportunity to shape both the production systems and food systems. We need to focus on transforming production systems. In this regard, we should focus on the progress, priorities, concerns and challenges in selected value chains. We should also understand that the land reform process has reshaped the agricultural landscape spurring local economies that could be engines for land transformation and industrialization for the Vision 2030,” Dr Masuka said.

  He added that it is, therefore, appropriate that the Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation strategy (2020-2025) focuses on the Agriculture Recovery Plan, Horticulture Revitalization and Recovery Plan, Livestock Growth Plan, Accelerated Irrigation Revitalization and Growth Plan and the Agricultural Information Management Systems.

The Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation Strategy is for reviving, restructuring, reforming, rebuilding and transforming agriculture from a USD5.2 billion sector to USD 8.2 billion constituting up to 20% of national GDP by 2025 and anchoring Vision 2030. 

“I urge you to critically review and analyse the current agriculture production and food systems and lay a solid foundation for a national and inclusive consultation process,” Dr Masuka urged delegates.

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