Mpumalanga farmers say the country faces a national food crisis if water pollution from mining in the province is not brought under control, according to a report on Thursday.
Louw Steytler, new chairman of Grain SA, said the organisation was deeply concerned, as Mpumalanga was responsible for a large part of South Africa's food supply, Beeld newspaper reported.
"This province is the bread basket of the country. If we want society to function properly, the government needs to give this problem urgent attention. Agri SA is in the process of getting legal advice on the issue," Steytler was quoted as saying.
The Mielie Trust had undertaken a comprehensive research project on behalf of Grain SA, to examine the consequences of the pollution.
Meanwhile, research done by the University of the Witwatersrand's Professor Terence McCarthy showed that even if mining companies attempted to rehabilitate previously mined land, harvest yields remained weak.
Delmas farmer Peet Bezuidenhout told Beeld mining was rapidly making it impossible for farmers to do their jobs. He had witnessed mining companies ruining wetlands at Bronkhorstspruit and at Ogies, the catchment area for the Olifants River.
Nigel Adams, head of the Blue Scorpions at the water affairs department, said his department could not solve the issue alone. Water Affairs Minister Edna Molewa said in a written reply to a DA parliamentary question recently that 53 mines were operating in the country without a water licence, of which 18 were in Mpumalanga.