/ 10 July 2008

Food price summit focuses on production

There is no other way to deal with escalating food prices than to increase food production, Minister of Agriculture and Land Affairs Lulu Xingwana said on Thursday.

”We have to go out into the land, out into the fields and produce foods for ourselves,” Xingwana told thousands of people at a food summit in Midrand.

”There is no other way, there are no short cuts,” she said.

The reasons for the food crisis are intertwined with macro economics, such as increasing oil prices, high input costs, rising inflation rates, a weakening World Bank sector and climate change.

”Our farmers are suffering,” she said, adding that there are also other pressures from increasing seed, petrol, fertiliser and energy costs.

Xingwana also called on the Competition Commission to come up with stricter measures to prevent incidents of price-fixing and collusion.

Food production is a short- and-long term solution to the country’s and the world’s food crisis.

In the long term, food production will enable all countries to build up a surplus that will bring the prices down.

In August, all the provinces will be called on to take to the fields.

”Now the time for talking is over, now is the time for action. We are all going to the fields, we are all going to plough,” said Xingwana.

She referred to the Freedom Charter, which stipulates that the land must be shared among all those who work in it.

It is hoped that the summit will establish the best implementation processes to assist in the alleviation of the crisis, Xingwana said. — Sapa