Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma on Thursday announced the government's Fetsa Tlala food production initiative aimed at fighting poverty and hunger.
“The thrust of Fetsa Tlala is to produce enough food to meet the population's food needs now and in the future,” Zuma said in a speech prepared for delivery.
He told residents of Kuruman in the Northern Cape that there was a time in the country when households had gardens and grew their own vegetables and fruit.
They kept chickens and livestock, something the government wanted to revive with the new programme.
“Through Fetsa Tlala all under-utilised agricultural land must be put under production. We are encouraging people to go back to farming.”
Zuma said the programme was an addition to the accelerated agricultural production programme launched in seven provinces in 2012.
Through that initiative about 135 000 hectares of under-utilised agricultural land was put under production, with maize and beans being the main commodities.
“We have worked further on the programme and reached this phase when we are ready to take food production to a national level, and to launch Fetsa Tlala.”
At least R2 billion would be made available for the programme as part of comprehensive support to farmers, for distribution to provinces.
Zuma said the initiative intended putting a million hectares of land under production for maize, beans, and potatoes.
“In some provinces the focus will be on livestock instead of vegetable production, for example here in the Northern Cape.”
Zuma said the government wanted to increase the availability of and access to locally produced food products.