Graphic: Saturday Star

Johannesburg - A combination of the on-going drought in the country and the weak rand has pinned South Africa into a tight spot, shooting food prices sky-high.

The Saturday Star has put together a grocery basket of food and other common items to show the increase and difference in food prices at various stores. This will be done monthly to track the projected increase in food prices.

Between December 2014 and December last year, food prices went up by an average of 8.7 percent.

Lesotho this week declared a national emergency as the drought continued to hit farming communities across the southern African region. The Market and Economic Research Centre also released the food basket survey this week that showed prices have exceeded the inflation rates of the consumer price index.

The food basket consists of basics such as meat, margarine, baked beans, chicken portions and vegetables. The survey said the most affected items were basic food products, which were the staple diet of the poorest of the poor.

Reports from food producers show that prices are expected to increase at least 10 percent by the middle of the year. This is expected to get worse by April next year, where food prices will be 25 percent higher.

The rand, having lost at least 30 percent of its value against the dollar recently, has played its part in causing prices to soar.

The country is facing a tough year, with food producers being forced to import staple foods at higher prices.

Agri SA economist Thabi Nkosi warned the situation remained dire, given the way the drought had hit overall food production. The fall in production would be felt more by those who relied on maize as their staple food.

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Saturday Star