Food Security in South Africa: hearings

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Meeting report

AGRICULTURE AND LAND AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
11 March 2003
FOOD SECURITY IN SOUTH AFRICA: PUBLIC HEARINGS


Chairperson: Mr N Masithela (ANC)

Documents handed out:
National African Farmworkers' Union submission
Agriculture Research Council submission
ABALIMI submission (Appendix 1)
National Agricultural Marketing Council submission
SANGOCO submission (Appendix 2)
Afristar submission (Appendix 3)
EMG submission
Maximill Rollermill submission
Water for Food submission (Appendix 4)

SUMMARY
The Department of Agriculture's strategic objective with respect to food security is to improve safety nets and food emergency management systems, necessitating the R400 million package announced by Government. Their goal was to reduce the number of hungry and malnourished households by 2015, by half. The Department's expected outputs include a supply chain management system for basic foods, school nutrition schemes, school garden schemes, and community food centres.

The Agricultural Research Council bases its role on the development and provision of technologies that improve agricultural productivity, ensure sustainability, reduce food costs, and improve quality and availability of food. The Committee questioned the ARC's post-research involvement, and the responsibility of the Department in this regard. ARC admitted that there was also a mechanism lacking to inform the Council of implementation problems.

The South African Poultry Association noted that the industry consumes approximately 30% of all the maize produced in the country. The Association experiences a number of challenges. The poultry industry does not own the feed industry, as in other countries and this means a loss in profit. Just over 13% of the country's domestic product was exported last year, and these exports are taking place at a loss, because of the Rand's unfavourable position on the international market. They said that tariffs on maize are adding to the burden. They are in favour of tariff protection on poultry, not on maize.

The National African Farmers' Union believed that the Union would play a significant role in the Government's drive to eradicate food insecurity amongst the poor in South Africa. They expressed support for the Government's plan to promote food security but believed that it was insufficient.

The National Agricultural Marketing Council argued that infrastructure is the foundation of any market economy, as infrastructure does affect food costs. Rural development is therefore a major issue.

The African Health and Development Organisation noted that, with regard to the use of biotechnology and genetically modifying foods to ensure food security, the most pressing need was to ensure an adequate food supply. The organisation noted that although here was plenty of food overseas due to employing those measures, it had been done with very little forward planning.

Afristar's presentation asserted that food security would be achieved through the conservation of natural resources and the enhancement of biodiversity in crop farming.

EMG's submission focussed on the group's support for a community of small-scale rooibos tea producers in the Northern Cape to enhance their food security.

Maximill Rollermill Manufacturers submitted that amendments to the Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectant Act of 1972, aimed at regulating large millers and food manufacturers, would have a devastating effect on small rural millers. According to the new regulations, millers were required to fortify maize meal, which depleted the nutritional value of the maize. The Committee noted that scientific research would have made their submission on the amendments more compelling.

The Water for Food Movement was started to allow women to encourage each other to ensure food security for their families.

MINUTES
Morning session
Department of Agriculture submission

Mr M Mbongwa: Deputy Director General, Department of Agriculture, briefed the Committee on an "Integrated Food and Nutrition Programme for South Africa".

Under challenges facing the nation and the Department in particular, Mr Mbongwa mentioned the following:
-The large amount of food being imported, whereas the rural black population should largely be exporters of food products.
-Uneven food supply chain systems.
-Weak infrastructures amongst communities.
-Weak food crisis management system.
Those categorised as the most vulnerable were infants and lactating mothers, children, child-headed homes, female-headed households, people infected and affected by HIV/AIDS and disaster victims. These covered a total of 2.2 million households or over 12 million people. They are found in former homelands, on commercial farms, in informal settlements, black townships, and more increasingly, in the inner cities, and spend less than R600 per month.

The Department's approach to alleviate the problem would be to identify and tackle the worse problems, improve short-term ones and provide basic food baskets consistent with household sizes.

A strategic objective was to improve safety nets and food emergency management systems, necessitating the R400 million package announced by Government. Their goal was to reduce the number of hungry and malnourished households by half by 2015. Those targeted beneficiaries were: thirteen rural development nodes, eight urban renewal pockets, and poverty pockets outside the nodes.

Food production and trading will be addressing irrigation and water control, and crop intensification and diversification, amongst other things. Community development projects would seek to promote non-farm rural income activities, build up school feeding programmes, and others. The DDG stated that help programmes tend to target rural areas, because that is usually where the bulk of the poor reside.

Under the list of expected outputs, the DDG mentioned a supply chain management system for basic foods, school nutrition schemes, school garden schemes, and community food centres.

Discussion
Mr D Dlali (ANC) asked, with regard to the right to food, and the violation of that right, to what extent the Department had been able to meet that right, and are not in violation thereof. Secondly, he asked what the Department's performance was in terms of delivery standards. Lastly, in terms of a crisis management systems, was the DDG able to state that the Department was not in violation of that right.

Mr Mbongwa said that according to the International Convention, the Department has further progress to make. The Convention necessitates that there are provisions in the Constitution with regard to those rights. These provisions are in the process of being drafted, which goes to show that efforts are being made to improve the matter. The State can admittedly be challenged on the matter, but they are doing as much as they can. On delivery standards, he said that all Government Departments dealing with food security were being motivated to coordinate their efforts. Their work had not yet reached a standard of uniformity, but that was the intention. Lastly, he said that as soon as the system is in place, it will almost run itself automatically. The crisis management system is not yet in place, but they are being moved in that direction.

Dr A Schoeman (ANC) asked to be briefed on the structure of the team running the crisis management system. How is it driven, and on what basis does the team work?

The Ministers of Agriculture, Health, Provincial and Local Government, Social Development were the drivers of the team, with the DDG as overall coordinator. They were the political drivers of the System. Below them are the technical, on-the-ground overseers, who meet on a more regular, fortnightly basis. These meetings feed into the political meetings.

Agricultural Research Council (ARC) submission
Mr Fikile Guma, Group Executive, Horticulture, presented the Agricultural Research Council's report on the role of the Council in engendering food security in South Africa. The ARC bases this role on the development and provision of technologies that improve agricultural productivity, ensure sustainability, reduce food costs, and improve quality and availability of food.

The ARC has developed the Agricultural Geo-referenced Information System (AGIS) an instrument for rating crop suitability in different parts of the country. AGIS is freely available for use by crop planners.

The ARC employs the use of biotechnological techniques to increase crop varieties, and to improve the potential and productivity of food crops. Here, Mr Guma mentioned in particular the ARC's achievement in regard to the morogo plant, which is small and grows relatively slowly. They have managed to speed up the plant's growth, and to increase its size.

In addition, in noting a general Vitamin A and iron deficiency as a major cause for widespread visual impairment, the ARC has developed a yellow-flesh sweet potato, which has substantial amounts of Vitamins A and C and iron.

The ARC's Sustainable Rural Livelihood (SRL) programmes are aimed at developing people's skills to enable them to start agricultural businesses. These include the appraisal of bacterial diseases in sustainable crop production in rural areas, beekeeping, sustainable land management practices in the Lusikisiki and Mlondolozi districts, and training farmers in irrigation technology in Limpopo, Kwazulu-Natal, and the Eastern Cape, amongst many others.

Discussion
The Chairperson mentioned that many communities had contacted the ARC with regard to research in their villages. What was the ARC doing to assist those communities with regard to research for food production?

Mr Guma brought the Chairperson's attention to the SRL programs that had been outlined in the ARC submission, to show the work of the Council in assisting communities to become self-reliant.

Mr Schoeman asked whether the ARC's research actually translated well into practical application for the communities. Problems might arise if there were a lack of follow-up. What was the ARC's post-research involvement, and what was the responsibility of the Department here?

Mr Guma responded that there were mechanisms lacking to bring knowledge to the people on the ground. Due to a lack of resources and infrastructure, there was also a mechanism lacking to inform the Council of implementation problems.

Ms J. Ntuli (ANC) asked about the ARC's relationships to the municipalities, and how that would have a bearing on helping them to work with small-scale farmers.

Mr Guma replied that their linkage with municipalities was through the provincial Departments. This was worrying, as many municipalities do not plan for such relationships.

Ms Ntuli stated that since the ARC's relationships were largely with provincial governments, they were dealing largely with commercial farmers. There were many areas controlled by traditional leaders where pieces of land were being farmed on. Was it not of vital importance for the ARC to go to those areas? While the presentation mentioned wonderful projects, it was really the small-scale farmers who needed to receive the benefit of those projects, rather than the commercial ones.

In response, Mr Guma conceded that their relationship with small-scale farmers had been limited. They would take due note of Ms Ntuli's remarks.

ABALIMI (The Planters) submission
Mr Robert Small, Director of Abalimi, presented the organisation's report to the Committee. Abalimi is an NGO working with organic micro-farmers and environmental action initiatives in the Cape Flats townships.

The organisation is helping over 3000 organic micro-farmers in over 100 community gardens, and over 2500 home survival gardens throughout the Cape Flats townships, at a cost of approximately R1 million per year, or R333 per micro-farmer, per year. The support includes subsidised production inputs, training and farming in backyards, under power lines, on school grounds, and in the bush.

For many, it all starts with survival gardens, and gradually progresses to market gardens, where it is possible to produce a baseline sustainable income of between R500-R1500 per month, off as little as 500m2 of land.

Discussion
Mr Schoeman commended Mr Small for the work of Abalimi. Regarding the land which was farmed, he asked to whom it belonged and what kind of land security there was for the farmers.

Mr Small responded that it was up to the people to find their own land, reiterating that some found arable land under power lines, or, where schools allow long-term tenure rights, on school grounds. There was support from local government in this regard.

Mr Z Kotwal (ANC) asked if there was a relationship between Abalimi and the local authorities.

Mr Small responded that Abalimi enjoyed good relationships with the local authorities, and with the Health Department. The organisation aimed to work in partnership with as many roleplayers as possible.

Ms Ntuli asked how the operations were financed.

Mr Small replied that they depend on the Government only for some funding. Government is not the core funder of the programme. They attempt to raise core funding through individuals and organisations countrywide and abroad. People apply to Abalimi in writing and they go through an assessment process. Wherever the organisation is able to, it brokers partnerships, in order to add value to the package which they offer to people. Here, he mentioned partnerships with the ARC, and with the University of the Western Cape (UWC).

South African Poultry Association submission
Mr Z Coetzee made the SA Poultry Association's submission to the Committee. He stated that the industry consisted of eggs, broilers and chicks. The industry consumes approximately 30% of all the maize produced in the country.

He highlighted various problems experienced by the industry. The poultry industry does not own the feed industry, as it does in other countries, much profit is lost here. Just over 13% of the country's domestic product was exported last year, and these exports are taking place at a loss, because of the Rand's unfavourable position on the international market. Compared to the low export rate, the import rate is much higher. Mr Coetzee added that, due to heavy export tariffs, imports come into the country much easier than exports go out.

Maize production is not functioning well, as tariffs implemented on the product are adding to the burden. Mr Coetzee felt that protection on products was required only when prices were low, and not when they are already high, as is the case currently with maize.

Discussion
Mr A Botha (DP) asked if Mr Coetzee was in favour of tariff protection against poultry exports.

Mr Coetzee said that he was in favour of tariff protection on poultry, not on maize. He was not in favour of exceeding an already high price.

Mr Schoeman said that in the presentation, fair indication of all the problems experienced by the industry was given, with very little solutions. What solutions could the industry provide?

Mr Coetzee said that the South African market is too small. Much planning was needed. He was not able to provide clear solutions but a solution must somehow be found to ensure some stability with the maize situation.

Ms Ntuli asked what the Association's role was in feeding the nation. She also wanted to know what the industry's plan was for helping small-scale farmers to emerge.

Mr Coetzee said that small-scale farmers were established with RDP funds. An amount of R17 million had already been spent in this regard, with much emphasis on training.

Mr Coetzee noted that when feed is expensive, the end-product is consequently also expensive. At Goedgedacht outside Cape Town, farmers can buy feed at good prices.

The Chairperson stated that there were no clear mechanisms to enforce expiry dates on foodstuffs on supermarket shelves. What was Mr Coetzee's suggestion?

Mr Coetzee responded that legislation relating to the matter was in draft form. Expiry dates can be a very relative subject, depending on the location and state in which the product is kept.

The Chairperson, however, stated that this was an important issue and that the supplying of expiry dates should be mechanically adhered to. He asked Mr Coetzee to ensure that the matter was looked into within his company.

National African Farmers' Union submission
Mr Motsepe Motlala, Deputy President of the National African Farmers' Union (NAFU), made the Union's presentation to the Committee. He said that NAFU believed it will play a significant role in the Government's drive to eradicate food insecurity amongst the poor in South Africa. While they supported the Government's plan for promoting food security, they believed that it is insufficient.

Mr Motlala said that black farmers require facilitated access to land, agricultural skills, food production opportunities and consumer markets. Black farmers do not have access to infrastructure such as water. They will be set up to fail if the transfer of land is not supported by availing them with the much-needed infrastructure.

Mr Motlala made the point that traditional leaders should be helped to play a meaningful role, to ensure that agriculture is enhanced.

Discussion
Mr Botha brought it to Mr Motlala's attention that he seemed to have contradicted himself. While he said that the commercial produce of food must be encouraged, earlier in his submission, he had asserted that commercial produce did not promote food security.

Mr Motlala said that one could not look at South Africa in isolation from other SADC countries. What he meant by his statement was that South Africa should look ahead. If the emerging sector is not assisted to climb ahead to commercial viability, South Africa runs the risk of becoming like Zimbabwe.

Ms Ntuli brought to Mr Motlala's attention the specific scenario in the Groblersdal area, where commercial farmers are irrigating their lands. Small-scale farmers right next door, do not have access to that water. What plans were being implemented to help those small farmers to gain access? Secondly, she wanted to know how the Union planned to achieve the rehabilitation of debt.

Mr Motlala said that he was fully aware of the nature of the problem which she raised. The Union would be addressing the matter in discussions with the President in this month. With regard to debt rehabilitation, Mr Motlala stated the apartheid system was responsible for incurring this debt. NAFU believed that dealing with the matter would require dialogue to bring it to a win-win situation.

Adv S Holomisa (ANC) asked to what extent NAFU had taken advantage of the Land Restitution Act (LRA), and what problems they had experienced in this regard.

Mr Motlala felt that the Government had done a wonderful job with regard to the provisions of the LRA. Since Government does not own the bulk of the land in SA, NAFU did not want to act irresponsibly by making pressurised demands on Government. The Constitution must in no way be undermined simply because people do not have land right now. He appealed to Government to work with the private sector and with commercial farmers in this regard.

National Agricultural Marketing Council submission
Mr Godfrey Rathogwa presented the report of the National African Marketing Council (NAMC) to the Committee.The NAMC conducted investigations into the impact of market deregulation on food security for the period 1997 to 2001.

For farm dwellers, the main source of income is old age pension. Although farm gate prices were decreasing, as from last year, food prices were increasing at an alarming rate. During May 2002, when this started happening, the NAMC started to monitor food prices. This survey has subsequently been expanded to all nine provinces, with monitors appointed throughout. These monitors supply the NAMC with data on the prices of a basic food basket, on a monthly basis. At the moment, it would seem that prices are starting to decline. Mr Rathogwa was unsure if this was as a direct result of the food monitoring process.

He stated that for food security to be achieved, there must be total farmer support on market and product services, and on market distribution. Food security will be achieved if there is adequate protection of black farmers against subsidised products coming into the country. Displacement of black production would endanger job creation.

Mr Rathogwa added that infrastructure is the foundation of any market economy, as infrastructure does affect food costs. Rural development is therefore a major issue. He felt there was a need for the appointment of a national coordinator to ensure such development.

Discussion
Mr Botha inquired if the Food Monitoring Committee would investigate last year's sudden, dramatic increase in basic products, or if they would investigate prices on end products only.

Mr B Radebe (ANC) said that since South Africa's economy had opened up, some farmers sell their produce outside the country. How could the NAMC ensure that this did not occur to the detriment of the black market?

Ms Ntuli agreed that local farmers should be protected against subsidised products and dumping, but how would such protection be effected?

Mr J Bokaba (Gauteng Legislative Portfolio Committee Member) asked what the Council's response would be to retailers who access the international market, and by way of explanation say that, to remain afloat, that is the only viable place for them to buy.

Mr Rathogwa responded that there are no mechanisms in place to combat price hikes. All that can realistically be done, is to ensure that there is always a sufficient supply of produce, and no shortages, which inevitably leads to price hikes.

Products from abroad are sold in South Africa for less. Since this was detrimental for local producers, measures must be found to counter this. Furthermore, South Africa needs to produce more than it can export.

African Health and Development Organisation submission
Mr Richard Wheedon, of the African Health and Development Organisation, presented the organisation's report on nutrition and health and how they work together.

Mr Wheedon made the point that R400 million had been by allocated by Government for biotechnology. Surely, he said, if considerable sums of money were being set aside for other, alternative means of ensuring food security that would also help the situation. With regard to the use of biotechnology and genetically modifying foods to ensure food security, he conceded that the most pressing need was to ensure an adequate food supply. However, he added that although there was plenty of food overseas due to employing those measures, it had been done with very little forward planning.

At this stage, Mr Masithela vacated his position as Chairperson in favour of Adv. Holomisa.

Discussion
Ms Ntuli asked how the Organisation hoped to help farmers achieve their goal of becoming profit-making commercial farmers.

Mr Botha had the impression that Mr Wheedon was of the opinion that genetically modified foods were harmful to food security. How could that be, he asked, when there is so much unmodified foods still being produced?

In response to Ms Ntuli's question, Mr Wheedon said that the organisation concentrates on supplying health information, and in this manner, tries to build them up. It plans to work very closely with Government in the future.

South African NGO Coalition (SANGOCO) submission
For the South African NGO Coalition (SANGOCO), Mr Glenn Ashton presented a report to the Committee, with the Coalition's views on how food security in South Africa can be reached. Some of the pre-conditions which he identified, were:
-Adequately addressing the historical injustices of the past.
-The achievement of proper gender equality with special regard to land tenure and rights.
-Sufficient water supply to all to enable people to grow their own food.
-The dismantling of absolute reliance on food aid, which destroys local markets and leads to ongoing cycles of poverty.
-The attainment of environmentally sustainable production methods.

Discussion
Ms Ntuli, alluding to Mr Ashton's statement that the people should feed the people, asked how this could be done, in the absence of the ownership of arable land.

Mr Ashton replied that, clearly the Government is addressing the issue of the redistribution of land, but the Coalition felt the process should be accelerated, and that it should be done in an orderly manner.

Mr Dlali asked Mr Ashton to explain his statement on the eradication of the privatisation of life, and how this relates to food security.

Mr Ashton said that genetic engineering allows people to own life. The privatisation of natural resources creates situations where companies own huge monopolies on vital resources. These are major issues which need to be seriously addressed.

Following further questions by Mr Botha and Mr Schoeman on genetic engineering, the Chairperson asked Members to desist from this line of questioning, as genetic engineering and biotechology would be the subject of the next series of hearings in April.

Responding to a statement by Mr Schoeman on the impact of agriculture on the environment, Mr Ashton agreed that this was an important factor. He added that there are other methods of food production, which includes intensive farming.

Afternoon session
AFRISTAR submission
Dana Smirin presented the Committee with a report from Afristar, stating that poverty and hunger go hand in hand. Current attempts to address food insecurity are not taking into account the link between poverty and the environment. Afristar's presentation asserted that food security would be achieved through the conservation of natural resources and the enhancement of biodiversity in crop farming. Furthermore, the organisation promoted permaculture as a farming strategy, which ensures natural resource management, and thereby sustains the environment. Permaculture involves the harmonious integration of landscape and people providing their food, water, energy, shelter, and other needs in a sustainable manner.

Discussion
Mr Botha drew Ms Smirin's attention to Afristar's submission that, "there is a dire need to network interdepartmentally…" He said that the role of local government does not feature in the presentation, adding that they should play a very important role here. The submission mentioned the "integrated food security plan fails to mention…" Could she offer a solution?

Ms Smirin suggested that there be legislation to the effect that each home with the capacity, should grow their own produce, as is the case in Vietnam. This would help alleviate poverty, and at the same time, deal with issues of self-esteem emanating from the inability to provide food security for one's family, and hereby create communities of self-reliance.

The Chairperson stated that Afristar's presentation presupposed that all South Africans have land, and that all South Africans do not live in someone else's backyard. He thanked Ms Smirin for the presentation, saying that the Committee would look into its suggestions.

Environmental Monitoring Group (EMG) submission
Mr Noel Oettlé submitted the presentation for the Environmental Monitoring Group (EMG). The EMG is an independent NGO based in Cape Town, with programmes in rural livelihoods, trade and water justice. In their presentation to the Committee, EMG focused the bulk of their attention on the group's support for a community of small-scale rooibos tea producers in the Northern Cape to enhance their food security, known as the Heiveld Cooperative.

The community was historically extremely disadvantaged, and as late as 1997, received only R2-00 per kilogram of rooibos tea produced. In 2001, the Heiveld Cooperative was formed, and its members registered as organic producers. This led to trade with the European Union, where members now earn R16.50 per kilogram for their tea. Europe is a fairly well-developed sector in fair market practices, which likes to deal with organic produce.

Discussion
Mr Botha commended Mr Oettlé on the excellent work being done by the organization, adding that it served as an example of what could be done under difficult circumstances. He asked if there were moves afoot to genetically modify rooibos tea, assuring Mr Oettlé that neither the Portfolio Committee nor the Government were interested in doing that.

Mr Oettlé responded that rooibos tea was produced in monoculture style, thereby allowing for pest attacks on a massive scale. Farmers use pesticides as combatants, thereby knocking out the predators of the pests, rather than the pests themselves. Biotechnology could help to produce something to eradicate the pests, but that could be a dangerous solution. Regulations should ensure that biotechnology is kept within reasonable bounds.

The Chairperson asked to be informed on the status of court proceedings regarding property rights for rooibos tea.

Mr Oettlé said the name "rooibos" had been registered by South Africans as a trademark in some northern countries. Anyone selling tea under the name "rooibos" must pay royalties. Court proceedings are ongoing.

Maximill Rollermill Manufacturers submission
Mr Chris Dirksen's submission was a response to proposed amendments to the Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectant Act of 1972 (Act No. 54), as announced by the Minister of Health on 18 October 2002.

The provisions of these amendments, while they aim at regulating large millers and food manufacturers, would have a devastating effect on small rural millers.

The Committee heard that, according to the new regulations, millers were required to fortify maize meal, since its nutritional value was depleted as a result of removing the germ from the maize. However, small millers do not remove the germ from the maize, which dramatically increases the nutritional value.

Discussion
Mr Botha asked Mr Dirksen to explain that large millers remove the germ from the product, since leaving it intact would cause the product to be susceptible to spoilage when produced on a mass scale.

Dr Schoeman stated that Mr Dirksen had made a compelling case, which would have been more compelling had he provided scientific proof that the product with the germ intact, was on par with the fortified one.

Mr Dirksen replied that the fortification of maize meal would make it into a different product to the original one. The other version, with the germ intact, would not be strong enough to measure up to the nutritive content of the modified one.

The Chairperson thanked Mr Oettlé for his presentation.

Water for Food Movement submission
Tsepho Khumbane and Marna de Lange delivered a joint submission to the Committee on their perspective of the achievement of food security in South Africa. Ms Khumbane started this movement, where women get together to reflect on their home situations. They are encouraged by other women who have been in similar situations, but have risen up to ensure food security for their families, and these women are themselves fired with determination to take up the fight against poverty. From this emerges a clear five-year action plan for the production of food on the homestead.

Ms de Lange made a slide presentation which showed the involvement of 2.4 million households. She added that homestead yards are a resource for food production that is not currently being used in South Africa, quite unlike in other countries.

Ms Tsepho made an impassioned motivation for communities to stand up and "take up the challenge: of households and communities producing their own crops.

The meeting was adjourned.

Appendix 1:
From Survival Gardens to Market Gardens: Organic Micro-Farming as a powerful tool for Food Security and Job Creation:
Presentation by R.Small, Director of ABALIMI. Abalimi (The Planters) is an NGO working with organic micro-farmers and environmental action initiatives in the Cape Flats townships.

We are currently working with over 3000 organic micro-farmers in over 100 community gardens and over 2500 home survival gardens throughout the Cape Flats townships. It is costing us approximately R1Million/annum or R333/micro-farmer/annum to provide the support we currently give. This support includes subsidised production inputs, training and on-site follow-up. These micro-farmers are growing vegetables on very small areas of land - from as little as 10m2 up to 5000m2, in backyards, under powerlines, on school grounds and in the bush. The micro-farmers are now discussing the formation of their own association and in future it is our hope that they will no longer require the supporting NGO to represent them on such occasions as these, but that they will ensure their own voices are heard loud and clear. Some representatives from the micro-farmers are in this room and I thank them for taking the time out from their allotments to support me here today. I hope they will stay for tea and be available to answer questions about their projects.

Micro-farmers are most often unemployed persons who have families to feed. They have turned to organic micro-farming as a way out of desperation and hopelessness and have found that, with a lot of hard work, it is possible to secure much of their home food supply and also to make money- and even create jobs.

The journey begins with Survival Gardens, where vegetables are planted as a last stand against complete poverty. As skills grow, Subsistence Gardens emerge which produce some excess food and a bit of cash from sales. Then, after some years, it is possible to develop Market Gardens. These Market Gardens - after much experimentation and research - are being launched this year, in which it is possible to produce a baseline sustainable income of between R500-R1500/m - after costs - off as little as 500m2 of land. These figures are based on local sales at normal street prices.

It will of course be possible to improve substantially on these figures in future, as the baseline becomes "common practice" among a number of micro-farmer groups and the possibilities for associative production and marketing are explored.

It should be noted here that the land required at the moment is not prime land - though this would be nice! We are at present and for the most part content to convert land which cannot be used for housing, industry or other essential infrastructure. There is plenty of such land which can be turned to productive use in the hands of hard working organic micro-farmers, and with loyal support from enlightened service providers.

 

To summarise: Step One is the most important step - support and encourage organic Survival Gardens at every home at risk on a massive scale - these gardens can provide Nutritional Security on just a few square meters. While stomachs may still growl, a Survival Garden can make the difference between a healthy or damaged brain in a young child. Organic produce is usually of a higher nutritional and health value than chemically grown produce. Organic vegetable gardens are simple and cheap to establish and maintain. Anyone can start an organic garden! Thus, Less feeds More and a small stream of organic vegetables can keep a whole family healthy, although they may still be hungry. (try eating your tasty organic carrot, produced in Khayelitsha and see how it fills you)

Step Two, is for Survivalists who wish to improve their Food Supply and earn cash. In this stage, organic Subsistence Gardens can be encouraged, which give up to 50% Household Food Security and a small income stream to cover some basic household costs on as little as 100m2 per family.

Step Three is the micro-Market Garden. Here, Subsistence Gardeners can collaborate to take a quantum leap out of poverty, through the sweat of their brows, the skilled application of organic technologies and smart marketing.

Appendix 2:
Submission to Parliamentary Portfolio Committee Hearings on Food Security, Department of Agriculture.
11th March 2003

Delivered On behalf of SA NGO Coalition (SANGOCO) (National and food security task team) and the EJNF Western Cape (Regional food and land security task team) and SAFeAGE.

Introduction; Due to the late notice of this meeting, the above organisations express their dissatisfaction with the lack of notice and the insufficient time frame that was available to prepare by the above organisations. Given the importance of this matter for society at large it is unacceptable that such a process has unintentionally excluded those who are most in need to submit their views to this committee.

That said, we thank you for the opportunity to present our views.

I am the Western Cape Steering Committee member for SAFeAGE, the South African Freeze Alliance on Genetic Engineering. SAFeAGE represents around 200, 000 members of public and over 120 organisations in SA.

SAFeAGE is in turn a member of the Environmental Justice Network Forum, a broad national network of NGOs and CBOs committed to environmental and social justice. Both SAFeAGE and the EJNF are in turn members of the SA NGO Coalition, an umbrella organisation representing the voice of civil society. As a representative of both the EJNF provincial and SANGOCO national land and food security task teams I am therefore mandated to make this presentation to you. I include the following points.

-There can be no food security until the historical injustices of Apartheid have been addressed; this means that land must be made available to the majority in order that we can feed ourselves. This nation has already embarked on the mission of land restitution, redistribution and enhancement of security of tenure. There is a strong call to accelerate this programme as a matter of urgency.

-There can be no food security until there is proper gender equality as far as land tenure and rights, earnings and inheritance are meaningfully secured. Women remain the most exploited food providers in the nation. The role of women must be urgently addressed in this regard.

-There can be no food security until there is food sovereignty; people must be in control of their food supply in order that food becomes available even if people lack the means to afford food on the open market. This is a human right and cannot be made reliant on aid or handouts. A flexible but systematic approach is urgently needed.

-Food security cannot exist until people control their own means of production of food and the means to market food amongst themselves. This is not to suggest a dismantling of the so-called free market, but to enhance it. Food production systems, urban and rural market gardens, marketplaces and other infrastructural needs such as exist in most developing nations, must be made available and returned whence they belong. The market is the heartbeat of the community.

-We must reverse rural poverty to the extent that rural livelihoods and farm-household production systems offer a superior option to the dead-end trend of rural/urban migration that presently exists.

-There can be no food security until sufficient water is available to us to enable us to grow our own food. In light of the WTO GATS rulings and other mechanisms that encourage the privatization of water, we suggest that the state review any considerations it may hold as far as privatization of water resources are concerned. Water and food are basic, interrelated and inalienable human rights. We have made progress in this field but need more.

-There can be no food security until OECD subsidies are stopped. One Billion US dollars per day of market distorting subsidies by the developed nations of the world seriously affects our market equilibrium. We must provide for stronger protection of our agricultural sector, both the existing and more importantly, the emerging sector of new farmers. If necessary, protections must also be put in place to avoid dumping and local market distorting effects of this subsidised food. Russia and India have each recently stated that food security is a matter of national security and are protecting national agriculture and food security. This is correct; unless we have food security in this country, we will not have security. We can never compete against this subsidised agricultural produce in either an economically or ecologically sustainable way. It is iniquitous to allow subsidies in the developed world whilst ignoring the realities in South Africa.

-There can be no food security until the privatization and ownership of living organisms of seeds and plants is banned. In light of this, the patenting of food through the mechanism of Genetic Engineering is counter-productive as far as the aims of true food security and sovereignty are concerned. Instead of encouraging self-sufficiency and independence from external inputs to the food production cycle the reverse is true; dependence on expensive and untested external inputs becomes established practice. This issue is too complex to cover here but further detailed summaries are available.

-There can be no food security when nations are reliant on food aid; this destroys local markets. It drives farmers off the land and increases the problems of urbanisation. In turn it decreases the ability of individuals to achieve food security in a well-established poverty cycle.

-Food security can only be achieved when all citizens are able to feed themselves, free of market distortions, subsidy distortions and free of the deprivations of the so called free market - which is of course nothing of the sort - especially given the influence of the Bretton Woods institutions, the WTO and other bilateral and multilateral agreements, that predominantly favor developed nations.

-A farmer is paid about R1000 per ton for maize, after costs; this is 5 percent of the cost of breakfast cereal. One ton of corn flakes retails for R20, 000. Samp runs at R4000 a ton, retail. Can we rely on existing market forces for the food security of our nation? Despite their best efforts and will, and we have outstanding people in this industry, people of integrity, this system has dismally failed to feed the people. Most of the people in this nation are desperately hungry. The state must facilitate the ability for people to feed themselves. The market cannot feed people, the state cannot feed people, because that is not its business, but the state must allow the people to feed the people. Again, this is an inalienable human right.

-Even though this nation produces enough food to properly feed everyone, 60% of us are hungry. There can be no food security until the market distorting effects of industrial agriculture and food production are limited. In this regard, triple bottom line accounting that includes the ecological, social and economic effects of these methods of production must be factored in.

-There can be no food security until environmentally sustainable methods of production become commonplace; it has been proven internationally that such methods of production are both more productive and sustainable. Case studies have shown examples of increases in production ranging from 25 to 300% all around the world in the 1990s, without the use of GE crops. A single hectare of land when farmed intensively can yield over 1000% of the amount of food and produce that intensive industrial farming can in the same area.

-People, especially when immunosuppressed, need more than just umnqushu. They need a healthy variety of foods, herbs and medicines that can be provided by community schemes and other innovative methods.

-Coupling the use of sustainable agricultural methods to existing and emerging restitution and redistribution programmes is one of the main means that present themselves for this great nation to achieve both food security and sovereignty, to have a healthy, well fed, satisfied and dignified population. The alternative is increasing urbanisation, marginalisation, social disruption and overcrowding, disease, crime and a spiral into social chaos. For structural work on such challenges I suggest that this committee, in fact everyone here, familiarise themselves with the work of PLAAS, the UWC Programme of Land and Agrarian Studies, and other groups involved in examining processes of institutional restructuring and reorientation in support of land and agrarian reform in South Africa. I hope they are presenting here as well. There are many successful projects underway - we must learn and learn fast.

-There is no choice; opportunities must be made available for people to feed themselves. The choice lies with you, the members of parliament, and the mantle of responsibility lies heavily on your shoulders. I beseech you, on behalf of an extremely broad national mandate to urgently fulfil your responsibility so that the people may be enabled to provide food for themselves, to eat and live in dignity. The need is dire and urgent. Make-work is fine, but lets make food.

Thank you for the opportunity to present these important concepts to the government of this land. Please remember that these concepts have been developed over time with the widest possible civil society representation in a lengthy national process.

Presented by Glenn Ashton.

Appendix 3:
Talking Points for Agriculture Hearing on Food Security

Dana Smirin

March 11, 2003

Afristar is a coalition of ngo's, academic institutions and consultants around the world working on sustainability issues- In south Africa our current focus is on land and marine usage reflecting on the peoples well being and security in health, peace and stability

WE need mass interventions to fight our internal war and the war we currently have is aids.

In years gone by our youth mobilized and fought Apartheid a wart against our people and today the youth of today wants to mobilize to fight Aids, a war related to malnutrition, self esteem issues, and poverty.

Healthy food boosts our immune systems, Can the war on aids begin with FOOD

TIME ARTICLE

Let us capacitate the programs we have like Landcare and grow them where by we are- training our extension officers to work together with our defense force-

let us use our defense forces in times of peace to help our children mobilize to save their future. Planting school gardens will meet the needs of dept of education's mandate on school feeding, train our farmers of the future and provide income for the schools. There are currently 6500 school permaculture programs.

SHOW SUNDAY PAPER

There is a practical solution

Permacuture is a design system creating natural resource mgmt

We use strategic thinking in the design process .

It enables us to build systems for growing high yielding disease free crops with out chemical input. by using intercrop rotation- maize grown out of haifer clover .

This system of farming can be done in a home garden, school yard, prisons and large hectarage farms. It takes into consideration all natural resources, managing the land sustainable and providing value to the people.

This method of farming requires low inputs therefore costs less in the long run, where by all waste ,materials are returning the enrich the soil.

We are making food at home and will longer have to rely on large corporations for our food security- we have capacitated a nation.- communities of local self reliance

Creating food security by taking into consideration triple bottom line economics, people, nature and out put.

In Vietnam it is law that every household grows food.- there every household has the capcity to feed themselves

Through training we can capacitate emerging farmers

Thru mentor protégée programs with existing commercial hubs. There is a support for this type of program to be developed.

CBO"S are self forming around food and aids, and need help to get training and started on the ground. We need to invest the existing intellectual capital of our nation to pass on their knowledge and train out people.

To assure economic security around food we need to also concentrate on

Value added crops that creates in a system that will result in social and econ activates and benefits.

  • Make food for self, overflow for sale and mafg of products

This must all be done under the organic banner where we have less inputs and dependence on corporations that are making profit off our people there fore creating self reliant bio regional economies

Agriculture = Food Fibre and Fuel

What is it we are supporting in this Rainbow Nation?

Freedom of equal rights and justice for all man kind

  • By providing practical interventions by uniting relevant groups to come together
  • To establish training centers combining all existing expertise, directing the intellectual capacity thru ngo's cbo's academic and biz

Teaching our prisoners to feed themselves and the community around them.

Let us win our own internal war in the rainbow nation with food- capacitating our children to mobilize yet again - this time to grow the seeds of this Nation whereby we have local community self reliance lessening the dependence on international multi nationals.

Lets our extension officers partner with relevant NGO's, consider the resources in our defense force and perform mass interventions to not only have our people feed themselves but also create an economic market from the over flow of products- Europe 2010 10% organics.

Appendix 4:
Water for food for the poor

Tshepo Khumbane, Marna de Lange

Integrated Food Security Strategy
for South Africa

To reduce food insecure households by half by 2015, by:

  • Increasing domestic production - WATER?
  • Facilitating food trade & distribution
  • Diversifying income generation
  • Improving food safety
  • Improving safety nets and information

What do the figures tell us?

  • 2 in 3 households have experienced food insecurity
  • 1 in 3 households regularly go hungry
  • 1 in 4 children are stunted through malnutrition
  • Half the population are younger than 15 years

Most hungry people live in rural areas and have fields

Only 2% of households have irrigation

Most households say they need water for irrigation

Does anyone catch the rain?

  • 1 in 2 households have < R800/month,
    2.5% have no income
  • Only 1 in 2 rural women find jobs,
    and 2 in 3 rural men

Families get food only through BUYING or GROWING

No money, no option - food insecure households
need to grow more food.

They need water.

Catching water for home food production

MmaTshepo's five-year food security plan

Roof water 50 cubic metres per year

Home grey water 50 cubic metres per year

Run-on more than 10 000 cubic metres per year

Food produced in Winter 2002 on township-sized plot: more than one ton including R2000 worth of onions, enough money to buy maizemeal for family of six for six months

Can we halve food
insecure households by 2015?

  • Yes, if we mobilise food insecure households themselves
  • No, if welfarism is our main strategy

Policies should avoid fostering continued dependence on the state

Water for Food Movement

30% technical

70% "mind mobilisation"

99% fun

"I used to think I have no water"

  • Eva Masha, Strydkraal, Sekhukhukune

(Rainfall 440 mm/yr)

Main recommendation for DWAF

Promote and extend Schedule 1 in support of family food security, by providing open permission for households to:

  • harvest, store and use street run-off or any other rainfall run-off for productive uses on their homestead yards
  • collect water by bucket or manual pumping device from any river, dam or other water resource to which they have lawful access, for productive uses

We also recommend that DWAF:

Promote water use by the poor for productive purposes, through

awareness creation among staff, colleagues and rural communities;

a major programme of technical support and the supply of building material for interested households to create their own homestead water storage and use systems

Remove punitive measures that discourage food insecure families' use of alternative water sources for productive purposes

Promote information on alternative water sources for productive uses by poor households

Develop collaborative relationships with Civil Society, Agriculture, Local Government to promote productive water uses by the poor.

 

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