Pacsa launches food cost seminar

2010-06-01 00:00

THE support and development of small-scale farmers is essential if South Africa is not only to mitigate ever increasing food prices, but also ensure food security in the country.

That was the view expressed by the numerous non-governmental organisations attending the round table discussion on transparent food prices organised by the Pietermaritzburg Agency for Christian Social Awareness (Pacsa) yesterday.

The organisation organised the discussion after a study it conducted in the Vulindlela area recently revealed that many of the people interviewed struggled with increasing food prices.

Mervyn Abrahams of Pacsa said the study was conducted using the community and numerous supermarkets in the city to determine pricing. “Food prices are an important indicator of household access to sufficient and nutritious food, and whether the constitutionally guaranteed right to access to food is realised by the poor.”

During the discussion, numerous delegates, who reiterated that many poor people are buckling under the high food prices, cited the need for governmental support for small-scale farmers to ensure food security at reasonable prices.

Christo Joubert of the National Agricultural Marketing Council said the agriculture industry is faced with poor government support, a slow land restitution programme and the increasing cost of farming. He added that many farmers are leaving the industry.

“The agricultural industry needs the government’s support to thrive, and small-scale farmers will be provided with the support so that they can reach the level of commercial farmers.”

He said small-scale farmers hold the key to rescuing the country from the potential problems created by the rising cost of food and food shortages, which could lead to riots.

Other speakers were heavily critical of the government’s land restitution programme.

“Above the poor support that the government provides to the claimants, there is also the erroneous assumption that the people who have been provided with farms actually want to farm or even had the intention,” said a delegate.

They urged the government to formulate coherent regulations to help improve and sustain the agricultural industry, especially small- scale farmers, to ensure food security in the country.

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