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Minister: SA households' food insecure

Oct 23 2012 18:00 Sapa

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Parliament - South Africa is over-dependent on markets and retailers for its food needs, Agriculture Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson said on Tuesday.

Addressing the National Assembly during a debate on the effectiveness of food production schemes, the minister said that when this system failed it resulted in food insecurity, specifically at household level.

Food security remained a problem, specifically in rural and peri-urban areas, where unemployment and poverty rates were high.

"While food prices have generally increased, it remains an anomaly that a basket of basic foodstuffs in rural areas is more expensive than in urban areas."

Joemat-Pettersson said that while as a country, South Africa was food secure, millions of poor households could not say the same.

"We produce enough food, but it does not always get to where it is needed, or at a price that can be afforded by those who are unemployed or on social grants."

She told MPs food production schemes, such as school and community gardens, and co-operative production schemes, were the best solution for poor communities.

"They are effective in terms of growing food, which is the first priority, but also effective in creating work and even local markets."

She praised the Food Bank SA for preventing food from being dumped, and for ensuring it reached the poor.

She blamed labour unrest for soaring food prices.

"When prices rocket because food is transported long distances, and even held hostage to violent labour action, we all suffer, but the poor suffer the most because they spend the highest proportion of their small income on basic foodstuffs."

Joemat-Pettersson deviated from her written speech to attack the opposition and the media.

She said they would never be allowed to "run the agenda of transformation in agriculture".

The minister referred to reports alleging a R800m donation from her department to the town being developed in President Jacob Zuma's Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal village, dubbed "Zumaville" in the press.

She said it was a fabrication that would never die down because "the Democratic Alliance had nothing else to say".
tina joemat-pettersson  |  food security
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