Fetsa Tlala: R1.6bn to end hunger

2013-10-20 05:00

Fetsa Tlala (“End Hunger”) will be the cornerstone of South Africa’s new food-security policy – and it will have a budget of at least R1.6 billion.

Agriculture Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson offered details about Fetsa Tlala on World Food Day, which fell on Wednesday.

She said her department piloted an integrated food and nutritional security programme in 23 municipalities across the country. This was the same programme for which a meeting was held at President Jacob Zuma’s home in June.

But the programme has now been rebranded, and Zuma’s food-security NGO, the controversial Masibambisane Rural Development Initiative, has been excluded from the final deal. “This has been renamed as Fetsa Tlala and approved by Cabinet,” Joemat-Pettersson said.

“The priority of Fetsa Tlala is to ensure that underused agricultural land is put under production to increase local access to food.”

Earlier, the minister said that through Fetsa Tlala, government has brought 200 000 hectares of land under production in seven provinces.

“Our targeted goal is 1 million hectares in the next five years,” she said. “Once the food is produced and harvested through Fetsa Tlala, we will then ensure that there is sufficient support for (small businesses) in the agriculture, forestry and fisheries processing sectors to mill the meal or pack the vegetables. Government should be buying food straight from our smallholders and creating viable markets for them.”

The agriculture department has been trying to pass a food-security strategy through Parliament since 2008. Joemat-Pettersson’s first attempt was Operation Zero Hunger, based on the Brazilian model of food security.

“Zero hunger was a campaign, but it never had support from the president,” Joemat-Pettersson told City Press last week. “We could not copy what exactly happened in Brazil. We had to make adjustments.”

Zero Hunger never got off the ground because of the apparent political disinterest.

The controversial Masibambisane Rural Development Initiative got involved in 2010.

Masibambisane was roped in as part of the adjustments, Joemat-Pettersson explained.

“This is where the president campaigned for people to plant food,” she said. “And it worked. We will now take it further from here.”

At the June meeting at Zuma’s house, R900 million in government money had been pledged to the new food-security strategy.

But in August, the whole food-security strategy was revamped into a new food policy, built around Fetsa Tlala, with Masibambisane kicked to the kerb.

Joemat-Pettersson revealed this week that Comprehensive Agriculture Support Programme funds would ensure that Fetsa Tlala would have at least a R1.6 billion budget.

Fetsa Tlala will be launched by Zuma this week in Kuruman in the Northern Cape.

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