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KwaZulu-Natal-based farmers to receive eight refrigerated trucks worth close to R10m this month

On Friday morning, KZN MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs Ravi Pillay handed over two trucks to the Ugu Development Agency as part of The Radical Agrarian Socio-Economic Transformation (RASET) programme. Photo: Supplied

On Friday morning, KZN MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs Ravi Pillay handed over two trucks to the Ugu Development Agency as part of The Radical Agrarian Socio-Economic Transformation (RASET) programme. Photo: Supplied

Published Oct 17, 2021

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KWAZULU-Natal-based emerging farmers will now have an improved access to markets as the province's four districts received eight refrigerated trucks worth close to R10 million this month.

On Friday morning, KZN MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs Ravi Pillay handed over two trucks to the Ugu Development Agency as part of The Radical Agrarian Socio-Economic Transformation (RASET) programme. The trucks will be used to transport produce from farms to government and private markets in a bid to support emerging farmers by linking them with markets.

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Ugu is one of four districts which will be receiving these trucks this month. The other districts, which will also be receiving two trucks each are uMgungundlovu, uThukela and uMzinyathi.

The Radical Agrarian Socio-Economic Transformation (RASET) programme is aimed at increasing economic opportunities for historically previously disadvantaged individuals through value chains and market access.

MEC Pillay said 4 500 farmers were part of the RASET programme across the province and last year produced R52 million worth of agricultural produce.

"We want people to move from subsistence farming to small holding which is a little bit bigger. But ultimately we want people to go to commercial farming and at each level we want people to understand it is a business, it is not just a hobby,” Pillay.

He said it was important to also have young people participating in agriculture as this sector could not be regarded as one for older people.

Speaking on World Food Day, University of Stellenbosch Business School senior lecturer in strategy and sustainability Dr Jako Volschenk said that the 10.3 million tons of food wasted in South Africa is equivalent to more than a third of local food production. "Wasted food is unacceptable given the levels of hunger in our country. And it also represents a loss of the water and energy resources used in its production, as well as food sent to landfill generating methane gases that contribute to global warming,” said Volschenk.

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More than half of the food waste is said to happen takes place in the middle of the supply chain, “between farm and fork.” Some 19% occurred in post-harvest handling and storage and 49 in manufacturing/processing and packaging while 18% is wasted by households and consumers.

“Methods like drying, canning, freezing foods to prolong shelf-life, and innovations in farm-to-fork production and consumption need to advance further. Initiatives by retailers to reduce food waste – better demand forecasting and supply chain management, improving cold chains, increasing donations of surplus edible but beyond-dated food and managing organic waste to reduce contribution to landfill – are all commendable, but we need more. We need to do better at wasting less and getting food to people who need it,” Volschenk said.

He said that an innovation that could assist in “closing the loop between food waste and protein”, is the use of insects such as the black soldier fly. Such insects feed on food waste, reducing the production of methane from decomposing food, and their larvae become a source of chicken and pig feed in agriculture, as well as being used in pet food. “This could one day be used for human food too. Insects are a far more environmentally-friendly source of protein, and convert waste into protein in the most efficient manner.”

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Volschenk said population growth is the biggest driver of the need for food, in turn driving global warming and other environmental problems.

In South Africa in this year, 10 million adults and 2.8 million children are said to have experienced hunger in the past week while the country wasted 10.3 million tons of food per year. This was said to highlight the disconnect between food security and food supply in South Africa.

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