Karen winning the 2nd Continental Essay Competition by African Organization for Standardisation (ARSO)
20 Jan 2016
THEME: Role of Standards in promoting sustainable Agriculture, food security and trade in Africa.
NAME: KAREN ALIBELA KATABWA
COURSE: BSc. Computer Engineering and Information Technology, 4th Year.
UNIVERSITY OF DAR ES SALAAM
DAR ES SALAAM, TANZANIA.
POSTAL ADDRESS: P. O. Box 21351, Dar es Salaam.
TELEPHONE: +255 655190592
A newborn child is unaware of whatsoever happening in the world. From the very first moment he will learn to breast feed, later to sit down, crawl, walk and many other things up to the ultimate stage of being self-dependent. Thus, humans have nature of learning throughout their lifetime in order to accomplish numerous things for a prosperous living.
We cannot argue the truth that Africa, despite of its richness in natural resources, is still underdeveloped compared to other continents like America and Europe. Africans desire for a continent that is able to meet for their basic needs such as food, shelter, security and employment in a sustainable manner. Some of main discussion topics among African youths are; when will Africa develop? Why do jobs pay more in developed nations?
The answer can be summarized in one sentence, that developed nations ensure quality and standards of goods, products and services at high level to optimize abundant productivity.
The question is; how do they ensure that all goes on well and why cannot Africa make it to that point? Having procedures that are loyally followed and constantly learnt from one generation to the next may be among the reasons that make it happen. Thus, due regard should be given to raise awareness among ambitious, fast thinkers youths who can give better ideas on standardization as a driving force for Africa’s sustainable development.
Sustainable is defined as involving the use of natural products and energy in a way that does not harm the environment (Oxford 7th ed.).
With the prominent problem of unemployment among many graduates from Universities, youths of this generation should be encouraged to learn and practice standards in order to maintain a competitive Africa.
ISO (International Organization for Standardization) defines standard as a document that provides requirements, specifications, guidelines or characteristics that can be used consistently to ensure that materials, products, processes and services are fit for their purposes. ISO comprises of 164 national standards organizations, TBS (Tanzania Bureau of Standards) being among them to promote standardization in industry and commerce.
Agriculture is the science or practice of farming (Oxford 7th ed.). Food security exists when all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life (WHO n.d).
Africa encounters enormous challenges that make it a major victim of poverty, food insecurity and poor in both inter and intra Africa trade, to mention a few;
To begin with, unfavorable weather conditions including drought and heavy rains usually lead to desertification and floods affecting both small and large scale farmers, since they occur without warning. Also, there is harvest loss leading to hunger and poverty among families and the global population at large. The following chart is an evidence of food insecurity condition in the world with high percentage in developing nations. Lack of information on the use of high technology tools and paramount methods of cultivation is a major hindrance to high productivity in agricultural systems.
An uneven development strategy between rural and urban areas has contributed to presence of poor infrastructure systems particularly in rural areas despite the fact that most food comes from there. So distribution to the market becomes difficult and the farmers harvest in vain.
Underutilization of the available natural resources is an acute crisis that leads to poverty. Most of our water bodies such as rivers and lakes could be used for farming and fishing since these areas provide the best conditions necessary for cultivation like irrigation.
Agriculture, leaving alone mining, is one of the most income generating activity in Africa since the industrial revolution is still progressing at a slower pace. In this manner we are to consider shifting from purely agriculture to the business side of it for profit, known as agribusiness, for sustainable food security and trade consequently. A good example is the current campaign in Tanzania “Kilimo Kwanza” which incorporates modernization of agriculture to increase crop production, improve livestock husbandry and undertake fish farming.
Most of the global food supply comes from a collection of small scale harvest. Agriculture alone without its products is a major platform for development owing to the fact that most people get employed and consequently are able to provide for their essential needs and the world at large.
To ensure a prominent agricultural system we ought to develop it from the production process through imparting knowledge to small scale farmers on good means of farming. For instance greenhouse farming where a small area produces big impact in harvests and promises continuous production, ensure efficient water utilization through the use of proper standards of farming machinery.
Zero grazing is another means of good farming where livestock are confined in one place to feed and drink while other animal husbandry activities take place and thus environmental conservation. The confinement allows animals to use most of the energy from feeds for growth and milk production. The milk produced will meet the standards for example TZS 1384:2011 as noted by TBS.
Standards have led to the manufacture of high quality technological tools like tractors and other automated machinery. These help to reduce physical labor and make farming easier.
Markets should make sure food crops that are brought in meet the standards to ensure the best quality of farmers’ harvests to bring about better competition in the global market.
Infrastructure system construction should adhere to standards for the provision of long lasting and high quality systems. So farmers’ crops can be easily transported timely and at lower costs.
Standards on fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides will provide crop protection materials that are non-pollutant and vulnerable to continuing environmental changes. For example ISO 5316:1977 standard for fertilizers- extraction of water-soluble phosphates.
Raising awareness on deforestation through the International Carbon Footprint Standard will ensure the availability of water. One example was during the 2014 United Nations Climate summit, Norway promised to pay Liberia $150m to stop deforestation by 2020 since Liberia is home to a significant part of West Africa’s remaining rainforest.
Furthermore, handling of waste water through standards such as ISO/PC 253 will provide recycled water for irrigation since water is the heart of agriculture.
Moreover, proper use of high quality seed varieties that can endure environmental changes should be adhered to ensure secure food supply.
TBS has given a helping hand in agriculture by finalizing a good number of standards. Its efforts have not ended here; it has been conducting trainings since 2009 contending commercial farmers to adhere to packaging standards and skills to be able to compete in the local and international markets. For example the seminar in Iringa region to rice farmers.
However; as concluding remarks, the significance of agriculture in Africa and the world at large, cannot be underestimated. Considering statistics reported in 2013 by International Finance Corporation (IFC), Agriculture accounts for nearly half of Africa’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and employs 60 percent of the labor force. Thus to make it sustainable, Africans ought to merge it with standards for appealing results including food security, trade in and outside Africa to increase revenue and consequently raise the standard of living of among Africans which is the greatest desire of all.
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