Johannesburg - 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 chairperson of Grain SA, said the
organisation was deeply concerned as Mpumalanga is 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 has 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
attempt to rehabilitate previously mined land, harvest yields remain 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 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.