Impact of HIV/AIDS on agriculture

Business Day
HIV/AIDS will have a profound effect on agriculture mainly subsistence farming in terms of crop production, labour and delivery, research has found. 

The research, conducted by the Centre for International Agricultural Marketing and Development in Bloemfontein, found that the deaths of families on the farms and the potential number of AIDS orphans on the land will require special and creative solutions. 

A report, The Impact of HIV/AIDS on Agriculture, released last weekend, said that households previously self-sufficient in terms of food through subsistence farming would find themselves producing less due to a lack of labour.  New forms of community housing and community agriculture should be developed and steps taken to ensure that the ongoing production of edible foodstuffs is replaced with quick-yielding cash crops. 

The report further said that there was an urgent need to address a lack of adequate information on the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in SA. Lack of adequate information was the major constraint in the formulation of this report. 

A survey detailing the effect on small-scale farming households, commercial farms and farming villages would have to be done before the overall impact on the sector could be determined and a mitigation strategy set up. Available statistics should be made more area-specific and differentiate between urban and rural occurrence of the disease at national and provincial levels. There is a need for a study to map the effects of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the various communities, the report said. Such a study would provide the agriculture department with information that is clearly lacking in several areas, such as the living conditions of farm workers and the farming systems that are losing the most workers to HIV/AIDS. This would show the impact of the epidemic on both the farmer and the farm workers' livelihoods.  

Some of the measures proposed to limit the impact of the epidemic included a greater role in planning new production strategies by farm co-operatives and labour-pooling schemes.  It is understood that the agriculture department has also done a study on the effects of the disease on the sector, but the final document has not yet been completed. 
(Source: Business Day, 26/02/01)