Food should be priority - Zille

2012-08-04 14:11

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Johannesburg - Food security must be a priority in any country that wants to deal with economic exclusion and poverty, DA leader Helen Zille said.

"Food security is a vital component of economic liberation," she said in a speech prepared for delivery.

"Although there are people who are hungry in South Africa, we are still a country that produces enough food to feed all 50-million people and export food."

She said that land reform should not undermine food security.

Zille was speaking at the University of the Western Cape on Friday.

"Our challenge is economic inclusivity so that everyone can afford to eat.

"And our next challenge is the looming drought which will increase food costs [especially staple food such as maize] and threaten food security," Zille said.

On Friday, economist Mike Schussler warned that droughts, mergers and input costs were expected to push food prices in the coming months.

He said that even when the drought in the US was over, food prices would continue to rise in South Africa because of input costs which include, fuel, electricity and labour.

Land reform

At present, the SA maize price was 44.4% higher in the first seven months of 2012 compared to the first seven months of 2011.

Zille said the country ought to undertake land reform which did not undermine food security. "What this tragically often means is that once productive farms become unproductive. This places South Africa’s food security at risk."

Land reform had failed because the government managed it very badly, she said.

"Equally, much of the most fertile land in South Africa is seriously under-utilised and often not farmed productively at all. This can never sustain food security in South Africa," said Zille.

She said the current communal ownership system was not working and not sustainable to feed the nation.

Land reform should be primarily done on the basis of equity share schemes, said Zille.

"This enables people who work the land, to get a direct stake in it through ownership, and share the risks and rewards."

Read more on:    helen zille  |  us  |  poverty  |  drought

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