Large market opened on coast

2008-10-03 00:00

Stakeholders in the agricultural sector must collectively discuss ways of reducing food prices and the challenge of food security in the midst of global economic instability, said Agriculture MEC Mtholephi Mthimkhulu yesterday.

Speaking during the official opening of the R30 million Ugu Fresh Produce Market in Port Shepstone, Mthimkhulu said that although there has been an increase, more than ever before, in the amount of food produced, levels of hunger, food insecurity and malnourishment remain high in the province.

He said increases in food prices and the rise of fuel costs are related, but whenever the fuel price is reduced, the price of food remains high. This and the stagnant levels of hunger are the reasons why he will organise a summit of agricultural stakeholders in the near future with the aim of coming up with solutions on how to the reduce food prices in the province.

He said that the summit will bear the results needed to alleviate poverty, build entrepreneurship programmes that will create jobs and empower communities.

Mthimkhulu said the Ugu Fresh Produce Market is a result of what can be achieved if ideas are pooled together to fight poverty.

The market, which was made possible with the support of the Agriculture Department, Gijima KZN, Eskom, the Development Bank of Southern Africa and Hibiscus Municipality, is the biggest between Umthatha in the Eastern Cape and Durban. It was built to boost the economy of Ugu District Municipality which has over 460 000 residents, 84% of whom live in rural areas.

The market will be supplied with stock by emerging black farmers.

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