Cabinet highlights food-price strategies

Cabinet on Thursday highlighted strategies it says are necessary to deal with rising food prices in South Africa and reduce the country’s reliance on food imports.

Medium to long-term strategies in this regard included, among others, the strengthening of emerging farmers and the creation of community food gardens, communications head Themba Maseko told a media briefing in Pretoria after Cabinet’s fortnightly meeting.

The focus on food prices comes after thousands of South Africans took to the streets on Wednesday in a nationwide strike—called by the Congress of South African Trade Unions—to protest against soaring prices of goods and services.

Maseko noted rising food prices “also present a window for the development of a vibrant and sustainable agricultural programme to meet the country’s food requirements and to make South Africa a net exporter of food”.

Medium to long-term strategies to increase food production included:

  • support and strengthening of small and emerging farmers and cooperatives;
  • development of agricultural trade and tariff policies;
  • enhancing freight rail infrastructure to support the movement of agricultural goods;
  • implementation of the Llima/Letsema land restoration campaigns; and,
  • the creation of food gardens by communities and households.
On establishment of a proposed national food control agency, he said this would not regulate food prices, but deal with issues such as strengthening the agro-processing industry and food-safety issues, among others.

A legislative framework for the agency would be ready by the end of March next year.

On help to the country’s poor, Maseko said government’s social security interventions were already reaching millions of people.

“For instance, over 12-million people are receiving social grants, while expenditure on social assistance will be over R75,3-billion by [next year],” he said. - Sapa


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