Are our food sources at risk?

DA leader Helen Zille speaks her mind about food security and poverty

Helen Zille prioritises food security in South Africa
DA Leader Helen Zille
Food security must be a priority in any country that wants to deal with economic exclusion and poverty, DA leader Helen Zille said.
“Food security is a vital component of economic liberation,” she said in a speech prepared for delivery. Although there are people who are hungry in South Africa, we are still a country that produces enough food to feed all 50-million people and export food. And land reform should not undermine food security,” Zille said, addressing students and academics recently at the University of the Western Cape on Friday.
“Our challenge is economic inclusivity so that everyone can afford to eat. And our next challenge is the looming drought which will increase food costs (especially staple food such as maize) and threaten food security,” Zille said.
At the same time, leading South African ecconomist Mike Schussler warned that droughts, mergers and input costs were expected to push food prices in the coming months. He said that even when the drought in the US was over, food prices would continue to rise in South Africa because of input costs which include, fuel, electricity and labour.
At present, the SA maize price was 44.4 percent higher in the first seven months of 2012 compared to the first seven months of 2011.
Zille said the country ought to undertake land reform which did not undermine food security.
“What this tragically often means is that once productive farms become unproductive. This places South Africa’s food security at risk.” Land reform had failed because the government managed it very badly, she said.
“Equally, much of the most fertile land in South Africa is seriously under-utilised and often not farmed productively at all. This can never sustain food security in South Africa,” said Zille.
According to her, the current communal ownership system is not working and not sustainable to feed the nation. It is her opinion that land reform should be primarily done on the basis of equity share schemes.
“This enables people who work the land, to get a direct stake in it through ownership, and share the risks and rewards,” she said.
(Sapa)
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