Pretoria – The FAO Representation Office celebrated the 2008 World Food Day by going back to the farmer. This year, WFD took place in Idutywa, a rural village in the Eastern Province of South Africa. Idutywa’s economy is highly dependent on subsistence farming therefore it was fitting for the celebrations to be held there.
Various agricultural projects were visited in the District and the current Female Farmer of the Year, Ms Bongiwe Kali also welcomed the chance to host the FAO Country Representative and the South African Minister of Agriculture and Land Affairs in her home province when they visited her to see the work she has been doing and to offer their support and guidance. The FAO Country Representative, Mme Rosebud V. Kurwijila used a handheld plough on the fields as she, accompanied by the Minister of Agriculture and Land Affairs, HE Ms Lulu Xingwana, worked the land only like real agriculturists can.
The main event was preceded by a 1 kilometer Human Chain March led by the FAO Country Representative, the Minister, the Premier of the Eastern Cape Province and the local Mayor. The march highlighted the theme for this year’s WFD: “World Food Security: the challenges of climate change and bio-energy”. The march led to a huge marquee accommodating over 6000 people from various provinces in the country. Affecting every one are the current global food prices, bio-fuels and climate change, and the communities were there to hear what they can do in their own backyards in order to contribute to the betterment of each other’s lives and the environment.
There were exhibition stands from various stakeholders including FAO, the Department of Agriculture, various institutions in agriculture and farmers. The day was full of fun activities just as it was full on messages from stakeholders. There was joviality all round as crowds were entertained by traditional Xhosa performers and praise singers.
At the event, the spirit of community was also embodied by Food Mountains; these mountains were made of fresh produce and non-perishables. It was indeed the day for agriculture.
The FAO Country Representative, Mme Rosebud V. Kurwijila, delivered the WFD message on behalf of the FAO’s Director-General, Dr Jacques Diouf. This year’s theme came closer to home during the third part of the Director-General’s message: “Climate change affects everyone but the poorest regions are already its first victims. Their situation is likely to worsen in the next decades. The worst hit will be hundreds of millions of people who are already vulnerable and food insecure: small-scale crop and animal producers, fishers and foresters. Climate change will affect availability of land, water and biodiversity. Changes in temperatures and precipitation, as well as more frequent extreme weather patterns, are expected to result in agriculture production shortfalls with negative impacts on access to food.”
For more information and interview requests with the FAO Country Representative, please contact Ms Nala Ramohlokoane on +27 12 354 8536 / Makhomonala.Ramohlokoane@fao.org