Food and Agriculture Organization Director General José Graziano da Silva met Central African Republic (CAR) President Faustin-Archange Touadera on Monday to talk about rebuilding the country’s agriculture sector and making it an engine for peace and sustainable development.
The discussion revolved around ways to tap into CAR’s considerable agricultural potential and how to support family farmers and small holders to improve food security and strengthen rural livelihood.
Years of conflict and political instability have hampered agricultural activities on which nearly 75 per cent of the country’s population rely on for food and livelihood. Some 1.3 million people in CAR are food insecure.
Instability, along with frequent episodes of violence, has resulted in the loss of human lives and damage to property in this centrally-located landlocked country, a report says. The number of internally-displaced people rose by 21 per cent between June and October 2015 to touch 450,000.
President Touadera, who assumed office last month, has prioritised agriculture. “Implementing our ‘Disarming, Demobilisation and Reintegration of armed groups’ strategy requires that we put all our efforts into the agriculture sector so that our population can meet their immediate and longer term needs,” he said.
The agriculture sector is the backbone of the country’s economy as 75 per cent of the population relies on agricultural activities as the main source of food and income.
On his part, Graziano da Silva called on the international community to play its part. “What is crucial right now is maintaining food production and rebuilding the agricultural sector—as it is (the) key to employment, peace and stability—while we have this window of opportunity,” he said.
Considerable agricultural potential
CAR has a dense network of water resources, abundant rainfall and land suitable for agriculture, but till date, only five per cent of arable land is exploited each year while only half of the available pastoral land is used for livestock.
There is a need to improve agricultural technologies and inputs, including seeds and fertilizers, but also strengthening rural policies such as land tenure reforms to allow wider access to rural jobs and livelihoods (read more).