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SA ‘must end this torment’ of high food prices

The fight against high and rising food prices will require the mobilisation of all social forces, Gauteng agriculture minister Khabisi Mosunkutu told the last day of the Gauteng Food Summit on Friday.

”It is not going to be easy, it is going to be difficult, but for the sake of our children, for the sake of our forefathers … for the sake of South Africa and Africa, we must succeed,” he told thousands of people who had been bussed in to attend the two-day summit in Midrand.

”Africa must end this torment and it must end it now. I’m sure friends that in the end we will succeed,” he said, adding that people can no longer afford to live in the ”chains of hunger”.

”If you control someone’s stomach, I promise you, friends, you control the mind of that person. This is what we must end.”

In the declaration closing the summit, Mosunkutu said the resolutions adopted included establishing a task team that will meet by the end of the month to address all recommendations made at the summit.

The task team will include civil society, the government, NGOs, agriculture, business and trade unions.

”[It was resolved] that the fight against the food-price crisis will require mobilisation of all social forces, communities in general and government.

”The participants emerged from the summit united in the belief that more needs to be done by all the stakeholders, including labour, NGOs, government, political parties, business and civil society movements,” Mosunkutu said.

In one of the commissions’ presentations, Nobuntu Mehlemakhulu said people only complain about their situations and say that the government must help them. ”For many of us it’s laziness … What are we doing to help the government help us?” she said to applause.

She said she lives in a township where she is able to plant and grow her own vegetables. ”It doesn’t matter how the small the land is that you have. Start using what you have. What are you doing?”

A number of other speakers said their commissions had met earlier on Friday and resolved that the government needs to provide land and subsidise the growing of food. It also needs to commit to train emerging farmers to grow food, market it and make a profit.

Big food business is also to blame for price-fixing and collusion and this cannot be allowed, the speakers said. — Sapa

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