Many farmers have not fared well during the lockdown. File picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency
Many farmers have not fared well during the lockdown. File picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency

Black farmers face up to spectre of a real food shortage

By Goitsemang Tlhabye Time of article published Jun 30, 2020

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Pretoria - Food insecurity in the country could become a reality should the government continue stalling on its support to farmers during the lockdown.

President of the Black Farmers Association of South Africa Dr Lennox Mtshagi said the sector was declared an essential service during the lockdown, but many farmers did not fare well during this time.

Mtshagi said the situation was so dire that they had indicated to the government that many small black farmers would not be able to resume operations after the lockdown, due to the lack of support.

Mtshagi said another one of the reasons for negative impact was that local sales hit an all-time low, due to people's movements being restricted by the lockdown levels.

“Most vegetables have a short shelf span, therefore what they didn’t manage to sell was a loss for them. Many farmers ended up donating what was left to struggling families.”

AgriSA executive director Omri van Zyl said food insecurity would become a reality unless the government looked into three crucial issues within the sector, the first being to provide policy certainty as no one would be willing to invest in a country where land expropriation without compensation was still a debate.

Second, Van Zyl said there was a need to relook at the financial mechanisms to ensure farmers were able to secure cheaper loans. A market-led sector drive was also needed to open up new international markets for exports.

The Parliamentary portfolio committee on social development also raised concerns of food insecurity in the country.

Chairperson Mondli Gungubele said while the committee appreciated the efforts of the national and provincial social development departments, he was still concerned about food insecurity among the vulnerable.

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