Food Security in South Africa: hearings

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Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report

12 March 2003

Chairperson: Mr N Masithela (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Biowatch submission
Earthlife Africa submission
Red Meat Producers' Organisation submission
Nation Chamber of Milling presentation
COSATU/FAWU submission
Department of Social Development presentation
CSIR Bio/Chemtek presentation

Researchers from the Universities of Western Cape and Stellenbosch briefed the Committee on their research project which revealed alarming results that served as objective indications that people do not have enough food in their homes.

Biowatch South Africa noted that the Diversity Act fails to mention agriculture or anything related to it. They argued that this was a serious oversight because there should be opportunities for those farming in unfavourable conditions. Large companies and multi-national corporations often placed macro-economic growth above local producers, often overriding natural and human rights

Pick 'n Pay submitted that the company was the largest single employer in South Africa resulting in redistribution and wealth creation. They noted that 8% of pre-tax profit was dedicated to social investment. They submitted that primary producers needed to commit to keeping basic food prices down and that it was within scope to achieve. In response to questions on the price of maize, he noted that maize was ordered three months in advance. Mass buying came with the increase in maize prices and it would be expensive to mark the maize down to current prices.

Earthlife Africa called for the need for basic infrastructure, the prevention of dumping and more research on non-corporate sustainable agriculture.

COSATU's submission centred around food pricing, arguing that there were problems with the concentration of ownership and an abuse of market power.

The Red Meat Producers' Organisation noted the value of meat production and the role of emergent meat producers. Measures taken to assist emergent producers were outlined. A change in quality standards to bring them closer to international norms, and so aid emergent producers, was called for.

The Chamber of Milling emphasized that food was available even if not always affordable. The delay in maize retail price dropping was blamed on the three-month lag caused by maintaining three months' worth of stock. The value of small millers and measures to assist them were outlined.

Grain SA asked for protection for local producers. The problem of emerging producers being sold inferior inputs by unscrupulous traders was noted along with measures that Grain SA had taken to combat this and otherwise assist such producers. Land reform needed closer attention.

The Department of Social Development gave a report on the Food Emergency Scheme. It explained which households had been targeted and the model followed - direct aid, combined with social security, starter packs for sustainable household production and community production clusters. This model was to be continued in the full rollout of the programme in 2003.

The CSIR explained ways it could help to lower the cost of food, boost employment, improve shelf life and stability and improve food nutritional value.

Dr Cousins and Mr Du Toit submission

Dr Ben Cousins, University of the Western Cape (UWC) and Andries du Toit, University of Stellenbosch, briefed the Committee on their research project which focussed on chronic poverty. The research had been conducted in different areas in conjunction with a number of international partners.

Mr du Toit said that the intensity of food security was such that the shortage of essential nutrients had serious implications for households. He explained that research findings revealed alarming results that served as objective indications that people do not have enough food in their homes. He said that food insecurity differed from site to site but that similarities were prevalent. One such similarity was that farmers were downsizing with labour being contracted externally on a temporary basis. Workers lived in RDP-type housing or informal settlements referred to as a condition of new rural poverty. He described asset depletion as the phenomenon whereby households owned little or no livestock and/or land. People are then dependent on the labour market for food security thus leaving them vulnerable with insecure employment. One third of people living in the three areas which were studied worked on farms, where they earned low incomes per person and per household.

Seasonality resulted in some people earning a higher seasonal income. A more positive impact would be made with a bigger basic income grant. He described social capital as thin where mainly women are involved in "care" networks while negative social capital like gangsterism and violence also exist. Mr du Toit said that competition further eroded social capital.

Dr Schoeman (ANC) said it seemed that the security of the living area impacted on food security. He asked how the problem was to be resolved and if present legislation was sufficient to present a solution. Evidence to show this had not been presented.

A Member asked whether the moving of rural workers to urban centres was part of a strategy to render the government ineffective.

A Member asked about records indicating the changes of crop farming irrespective of the jobs lost in the process.

Ms Nkompe-Ngwenya (ANC) asked for recommendations on child labour during seasonal periods.

Responding to Dr Schoeman' s question, Mr du Toit said that there no was no holistic solution to the problem of random evictions. The emphasis should be on how to implement the law without procedural problems. Regarding the child labour question, Mr du Toit said that there was no survey on child labour but that the issue was being investigated. He recommended that a revamping of the social security system to encourage successful urban land reform. He suggested the subsidisation of land as an investment in the future so that households would have direct access to food. Mr Cousins explained that the research was in its early stages and their aim was evidence-based policymaking.

Mr du Toit said that labour-wage regulations would negatively affect workers if left to the market to determine. A pre-wage regulation scenario would ensue and many employer practices formed part of the problem, doing little to alleviate poverty. It was important to note farmers' responses to the 27-hour rule and whether they would discover loopholes to reduce exposure. Mr du Toit said that was indicative of the lack of vision regarding the potential of agriculture in South Africa. He added that there was a need for unifying leadership.

Biowatch submission
Ms Elfrieda Pschorn-Strauss represented Biowatch South Africa. She discussed intellectual property rights and the fact that the Diversity Act in South Africa fails to mention agriculture or anything related to it. This was a serious oversight because there should be opportunities for those farming in unfavourable conditions. Large companies and multi-national corporations often placed macro-economic growth above local producers, often overriding natural and human rights. She mentioned control over food and seed supplies and genetic pollution.

An appropriate agricultural system was threatened by patents because the individual farmer's input is not recognised when companies hold patent rights. Genetic pollution spread too rapidly to control and the development of super-insects and super-seeds was imminent, but the GMO act did not protect South African farmers who would then be held responsible. Good policies could be implemented if the view held of South African agriculture was broader, to avoid vulnerability.

Ms Pschorn said that even though more trade may result in less poverty, some people were so poor that they were unable to participate in such a market and so should have access to means of producing their own food. Some national policy contributed to poverty on farms because local economies suffered as a result. Research is increasingly privatised in the interests of larger companies. Research should be aimed at practices and systems because if the control over seeds is lost, the country would be taking serious risks.

The Chair urged that all debate regarding GMO's be left for another meeting dedicated to that issue only.

Dr Schoeman asked whether there was any scientific assessment regarding the replacing of industrial culture with organic agriculture. He pointed out that organically grown food was far more expensive than the alternative and asked how the poor would be able to afford it.

The Chairperson asked for clarity around the privatisation of research, trade agreements related to food security and the issue of globalisation.

Ms Pschorn said that research was now conducted for private companies as funds for public interest research had been cut. She described it as profit-driven with universities being reliant on these companies. Regarding the liberalisation of the agricultural market, she said that farmers aim to be more productive and cut costs with seasonal employment, leading to food insecurity.

She said that trade agreements did not necessarily mean free trade as there are still high levels of protection of interests.

There were other alternatives to organically grown food, but the focus was implementation on a smaller scale. In terms of yield, she said that there would be diversity of crops and nutrients and thus a food security system in the household.

Pick 'n Pay submission
Mr Summers said that his company was concerned about food security, social investment and food prices. There was a responsibility to take formalised retailing to poor areas where the cheapest food is found in the largest stores. Existing structures have efficient and competent distribution mechanisms for targeted food assistance. It was important to avoid groups forming to take advantage of the service. Regarding social investment, he said that his company was the largest single employer in South Africa resulting in redistribution and wealth creation. He said that 8% of pre-tax profit was dedicated to social investment. Concerning food prices, Mr Summers said that primary producers needed to commit to keeping basic food prices down and that it was within scope to achieve. He welcomed the appointment of the Food Price Commission, but said that sensationalism in the media contorted reality. The South African retail sector is as competent and sophisticated as any other in the world. The responsibility to consumers was absolute and any initiative requiring their assistance was welcome at any time should the need arise.

A Member asked about the nature of social investment programmes and who benefited from these.

Mr Summers responded and said that a commercial enterprise would have limited social investment. He described a Social Investment Policy tabulating the amount of money donated.

Ms Nkompe-Ngwenya said she saw no real movement towards the poorest areas and asked whether there were plans to do so. She enquired about the expiry dates on sale goods and related health hazards.

Mr Summers said that people move to urban areas but still remain poor. It was very important to engage the community in the setting up of a new store and that in itself was regarded as a social investment.

Mr Z Kotwal (ANC) asked if the importing of goods caused job losses.

Mr Summers responded to the importing question by saying that his company was a leading partner of the "Proudly South African" campaign and that imports were only used if the component was not available in South Africa. Retailers were concerned with protection while consumers concerned themselves with finding the lowest prices. It was important to find a balance.

Ms J Ntuli (ANC) noted that the real pricing of goods in large stores were the same.

Mr Summers said that the environment was very competitive, but not collusive. Sensationalism roused rumours of collusion; any poverty alleviation would please them as a company.

The reason for inflation was one of cause and effect, but that sensationalism prevented balanced rational reporting.

The Chair asked about the manipulation of prices. He asked for an opinion on regulations concerning expiry dates. He also asked why the price of maize meal had not dropped in shops.

Mr Summers said that his company prided itself on openness and full disclosure and was not involved in any form of price manipulation. He said that promoting a big sale on expired goods was a major risk for large stores and he welcomed open-date coding on items.

Regarding maize prices, Mr Summers said that maize was ordered three months in advance. Mass buying came with the increase in maize prices. It would be expensive for them to mark down to current prices.

The Chair called for an end to the abuse of systems and government intervention to avoid problems for retailers.

Congress of Traditional Leaders submission
The Chair introduced Prince Mopeli from the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa (CONTRALESA). The Chief pointed out that up to 80% of the population lived on 13% of the land. Big companies exploited natural resources and local people do not benefit. The point of he Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) was biased towards rural development but results from this had yet to be seen. He felt that CONTRALESA should have been consulted as subsistence farming was the livelihood of many rural inhabitants and called for arable allotments, livestock and self-help schemes to promote development.

Prince Mopeli said that government should assist in conjunction with the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) and the National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC). He explained that housing subsidies were not of priority in rural areas.

Mr Farrow (DP) enquired about housing subsidies and why these could not be linked to land tenure as secured collateral for productivity.

A Member asked whether traditional authorities had devised means for future utilisation of natural resources to benefit communities.

Ms Ntuli asked how to solve the problem of rearing cattle on small lots of lands. She also mentioned human resource development and asked how people would learn to become agrarian without the necessary training in farming culture. It was observed that people seem to have lost interest in rearing livestock and a concern was raised about irrigation schemes.

Mr M Ngema (IFP) asked whether traditional leaders were involved in mobilising their communities for support.

Prince Mopeli said that housing subsidies should be converted to assist rural people with implements to enable them to till the land and so increase their income levels and improve standards of living. He explained that a Bill was coming before Parliament regarding land ownership and that more mechanisms were expected to be put into place. The Chief referred to the government's adoption of the Integrated Rural Development Strategy inputs and measures to improve the lives of rural people. Rural people were still very much interested in rearing livestock even if their lifestyles had changed somewhat. He called for the zoning of areas for grazing purposes.

Earthlife Africa submission
Mr Bryan Ashe, Earthlife Africa, stated that there was enough food for the people who could pay for it. Productivity lagged because policies were unfavourable and production is focused on exporting instead of meeting local needs. He expressed concern about corporate control of seeds and dependence on outside inputs. Trade-related intellectual property rights (TRIP's) served the interests of large companies. Mr Ashe called for the need for basic infrastructure, the prevention of dumping and more research on non-corporate sustainable agriculture.

Ms Ntuli asked which policies were regarded as unfavourable.

Mr Ashe mentioned policies concerning access to land as unfavourable.

Mr Farrow asked for evidence regarding productivity and enquired as to the choices between genetically engineered foods and alternatives relating to affordability.

Mr Ashe said that mixed cropping should be reintroduced as biodiversity had been lost.

Mr Farrow asked whether it was realistic to consider farming and the expansion thereof without the use of insecticides and other chemicals used in industrial agriculture.

Mr Ashe mentioned the Valley of 1000 Hills where projects such as these provided security at household level. He said that logistics remained a problem because surpluses needed to be taken to markets.

Ms Ntuli asked what the Committee should do to ensure that people had land to sustain themselves.

Mr Ashe said that there were often failures in restitution because of the lack of a support system for policies.

Mr Farrow said that it was important to tackle issues around TRIP's and patents in terms of genetically engineered foods.

The Chair noted that the main points of Mr Ashe's presentation were: access to markets, land redistribution and resolving problems regarding subsidies.

COSATU submission
Mr Masimola, Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) explained that the abuse of market power leads to the country suffering as a whole. The Food Price Monitoring Commission is meant to have long term solutions and he suggested concentrating on issues of ownership and trends. High food prices impacted negatively on the poor.

Mr Watkinson (NALEDI) added that there were problems with the concentration of ownership. The initial suggestion implied a shortage of maize in South Africa. Parity and the reason for no decline in retail prices should be investigated. Mr Watkinson said that government intervention was justified where discrepancies occurred because manipulation of prices could be argued for. He added that 2002 grain stores were higher than 2001 and this raised concern about silo receipts. He said that government policy encouraged free markets to develop quickly leading to the rapid decline in household food security.

Mr Masimola pointed out that the Food Pricing Commission was issued a mandate to investigate food price increases and that mere observation was unacceptable.

Mr Farrow asked how the performance of the Rand would impact on the costs of production.

Ms Ntuli asked about what could be done in rural areas to assist with maintaining land and self-help initiatives.

Mr Watkinson said that costs were all below 40% of the devaluation of the Rand. The exchange rate was not sufficient reason for the increase in prices. He said that no exports above normal commercial sales were reported and there was no major movement from South Africa to SADC countries. Mr Masimola stated that the government is centrally placed to create an enabling environment. Negative factors surrounding land and water were beyond control but that the issue was of concern.

The Chair asked whether it was felt that policies were flawed and whether other sectors were prepared to assist the government. He mentioned the labour and private sectors and trade unions particularly.

Mr Masimola noted that resources were limited. He mentioned that COSATU affiliates had success in assisting retrenched workers by teaching skills and forming co-operatives.

Afternoon session
Red Meat Producers' Organisation submission
Mr G Shutte (Manager, RPO) noted the importance of meat production - animal production averaged 42% of the gross value of agricultural production in South Africa, 70% of South Africa's area is suitable only for livestock/game. The sector could play an important role in alleviating poverty.
Emergent producers hold over 40% of livestock. The RPO was instrumental in creating their representative organisation: the National Emergent Red Meat Producers' Organisation (NERPO). The time had come for RPO and NERPO to merge.

The RPO recommended that:
-Emergent producers should be aided in commercialising their production including technical and credit services.
-Local producers be protected from 'unscrupulous importers'.
-VAT on red meat be zero rated.
-Red Meat exports be facilitated by negotiating export protocols and ensuring that the Department has the capacity to certify export products.
-The South African meat classification system be brought closer to the (less stringent) international standards.
-The Animal Identification Act Regulations and Pounds Act be finalised as soon as possible to help combat stock theft.
-Malignant Catarrhal Fever be declared a controlled disease with consequent controls on the movement of wildebeest and work on a vaccine.
-Beef be given special tariff protection in the proposed MERCOSUR free trade agreement.
-A livestock factor be built into the Agricultural Insurance Bill.
-A single assignee be appointed to ensure quality standards to end the current practice of abattoirs appointing their own inspectors and thus effectively being their own quality referees.

Mr D Dlali (ANC) asked for the RPO's view on the likely expense of the proposed technical and credit services, and of the impact of stock theft on credit services.

Mr Schutte replied that this would be expensive. Available structures could be employed, such as extension officers, though they needed retraining. The level of education of emergent producers posed a potential problem and should be borne in mind. RPO farmers provided some training was involved in the Foundation for Farming Development.

Dr A Schoeman (ANC) raised the problem of the supply of land for cattle farming. How did game farming affect this?

Mr H Nketu (Free State Legislature) asked for the threat of disease from game farming to be clarified. Since game movement was already regulated by permits, what more needed to be done?

Ms J Ntuli (ANC) asked how malignant catarrhal disease could be controlled without a vaccine.

Mr Schutte replied that the Government had to look at the game and red meat industries. In terms of food security, red meat had a greater contribution to make. Matters might be different if one looked at issues such as employment.

The Game industry presented a danger through malignant catarrhal disease, carried by Wildebeest. Wildebeest should not be relocated to an area without the agreement of neighbouring red meat producers. Red Meat producers contributed funds for vaccine development, but these were not sufficient and Government support was needed.

Ms N Mathibela (ANC) asked for further information about the owners of the stolen stock.

Mr Nketu asked about theft in provinces other than the Eastern Cape, which Mr Schutte had spoken about.

Mr Schutte replied that the RPO's study had been undertaken in the Eastern Cape. Figures there suggested that losses were twenty times those suggested by SAPS figures - about 90% of stock theft involved only one or two animals and these cases were not usually reported. Such cases were often from emergent producers and the impact on them was relatively large. The RPO had stock theft committees and they invited emergent producers to attend to alleviate the problem. The committees asked that they report their cases to the SAPS, which helped to combat under-reporting.

Ms Mathibela asked about the perception that emergent producers' red meat products were under-exported because they were of a low standard.

Mr Schutte replied that South African meat in general was of a very high quality, citing the thirteen percent average fat content of South African beef carcasses versus figures over thirty percent of USA and EU carcasses. There was a problem with the quality of beef from emergent producers but this could be helped through the extension officer system and training. It would also help if South African quality standards were brought closer to international norms, which allowed older animals to qualify for the highest grades.

Ms Ntuli raised the matter of income creation and poverty alleviation through meat production - how is this possible without land?

Mr Schutte agreed that there was an imbalance in income and that land reform was needed. Income creation went beyond meat production to other products from cattle farming, such as automotive leather.

Ms Ntuli asked what the impact of the Pounds Act would be.

Mr Schutte replied that the RPO was working on getting a law on this. The SAPS had indicated that if pounds were available, this would alleviate the problem of stock theft.

Ms Ntuli asked for further information on the emergent producers responsible for 40% of production.

Mr Schutte explained that the 40% referred to were emergent African producers. 60% of these farmed on communal land, 30% leased land and the remaining 10% had property rights over the land used. The figure of 10% was too low and had to be increased.

Chamber of Milling submission
Mr P Moloisane, Chief Economist, and Mr J de Villiers jointly conducted the presentation.
South African production exceeds consumption levels for white and yellow maize and almost met consumption levels for wheat. It is unnecessary and expensive for the Government to build strategic stocks of grain - there was no chance that South Africa would run out of stock. Worldwide the trend was away from strategic stocks. According to a study by Professors Vink and Kirsten, commissioned by the Government, consumer vulnerability to price instability due to liberalisation was not as severe as portrayed.

Government had a role to play in improving transport infrastructure, promoting trade, providing a market information system and improved communication system, developing market oriented mechanisms (such as SAFEX), and improving access to foreign exchange for goods with a market price in US dollars.

Deregulation had led to better access to food on average, with the most evidence for deregulation coming from improved food security for the rural poor. There is a concern that many rural households depended on pensions and other state grants. Super maize remained the cheapest source of food energy (25.4c per 100kJ).

Food safety could be compromised by the lack of Department inspectors. The industry had adopted voluntary measures to ensure quality and food safety.

Ms Ntuli expressed anguished concern about the plight of the rural poor. To say food was accessible was a mockery. Staples such as maize were very expensive - more so in rural areas than in urban areas. What was being done to assist the poor?

Mr Dlali noted that the submission from the Ministry raised the lack of food security in households with few reserves, yet the Chamber's submission indicated that there was no problem with food accessibility - why the difference?

Mr De Villiers replied that this was a question of affordability not accessibility - maize meal will be available even if not affordable. Millers assisted by cross-subsidisation to ensure that maize meal was made available at the same price in rural and urban areas - price differences were due to lack of retailer competition in rural areas and transport costs. The industry helped further by bringing down its costs. Maize prices were cheaper now in real terms than before liberalisation. Small millers helped to bring down prices since they did not build large stocks and so were currently buying at lower prices than the large companies had bought their stock. To compete, large companies had to lower prices faster.

Mr M Ngema (IFP) asked about the role small millers could play in ensuring food access in their areas. Is there anything the Chamber of Milling could do to collaborate with them?

Mr De Villiers replied that Small Millers were provided training, the grain information service and research results.

The Chair asked if the Chamber could give advice on how best to enable poverty-stricken people to get food.

Mr Moloisane responded that Millers helped by trying to minimise costs. The Department of Trade and Industry study of the wheat-to-bread value chain showed that since price control had ended, the retail market value share had grown whilst the millers' value share had dropped. Millers tried to ensure that people could afford food, but the final price was due to retailers. Improvement of rural infrastructure would make transport easier and cheaper and so lower prices. Such infrastructure would draw investment to rural areas.

The Chair asked why, if the price of maize had dropped, retail prices remained high.

Mr De Villiers replied that there was a lag of approximately three months before lower grain prices fed through to retail prices since millers maintained three months worth of stock.

Grain SA submission
Mr S Shone, General Manager, represented Grain SA. He noted that the USA and EU grain producers are highly subsidised and have favourable soil and climate. South African producers had neither advantage, so had to compete on efficiency. The need to increase efficiency is challenged by externalities that require adjustment by producers. The loss of researchers at the agricultural research council was an issue of concern.

With deregulation, producers encountered new risks - fluctuating prices and imported competition are problem areas. Trade agreements added further imported competition. Thus, producers needed more protection. Emerging producers faced additional problems, including inferior inputs sold to them by unscrupulous dealers.

Grain SA provided a service to allow small producers to consolidate their produce into lots large enough to be traded on SAFEX. It also has a mentor system in place and was impacting positively on ten thousand households through this. Greater consideration had to be given to land reform to create successful livelihood.

Crop yield insurance would aid food security by absolving the state from exposure to risk in case of drought or other emergencies/disasters.

Mr Dlali asked about the report raising the Government's focus on emerging producers as a problem. Did the Chamber want the Government instead to focus on developed producers and ignore emerging producers?

Mr Shone replied that it was not a matter of ignoring emerging producers, but that Government should pay more attention to developed producers.

Mr Nketu asked if the Chamber agreed with the Chamber of Millers that the retail price lag was due to stocks held by millers.

Dr Purchase (Senior Management, Grain SA) replied that the Chamber's comments on this seemed fair, but that this should be monitored to ensure it was not used as an excuse for high prices.

Mr Dlali asked what mechanisms were in place to assist emerging producers in developing expertise.

Ms Ntuli asked what the Chamber's role in land reform and support programmes was and how disadvantaged producers sold substandard inputs could be helped.

Dr Purchase replied that the quality of inputs fell under Act 36 of 1947, which Grain SA had asked to be revised. A new Act and Regulations were to be finalised. Grain SA had established a protocol to monitor seed, chemical and fertiliser standards. This function should be part of the inspection services.

Mr Shone added that Grain SA was establishing its own supply depots. As part of its training programme, emerging producers were being trained to manage these. It was difficult to become involved directly in land reform since the process took three to five years. Grain SA was working with the Department looking at other approaches. Its programmes were having a positive impact on ten thousand households.

Department of Social Development submission
Ms Thembi Nwedamutswu (Deputy Director General: Integrated Development) gave a presentation on the Food Emergency Scheme. The goal is to halve hunger, malnutrition and food insecurity by 2015.

R400 million had been allocated on 29 October 2002. Of this, R230 million was used for local food parcels and R170 million for food obtained through the world food programme.

The model is one of immediate food relief in the form of food parcels, access to social security support, starter packs for household food production, and to link households to community production centres. The programme utilised existing structures and systems and tender exemptions to fast track relief.

Priority was given to households according to expenditure. The programme started with households that spent less than R200 per month.

A pilot project for twelve thousand households highlighted the importance of stakeholder mobilisation, time limits, institutional capacity and identifying beneficiaries. The programme's focus was children, child-headed households, female-headed households, HIV/AIDS affected households and the elderly.

The programme faced challenges of sustainability and limited time with funds having to be committed by the end of March.

Ms Mathibela asked about the funding time constraints - time was needed to ensure money was spent on the right people.

Ms Nwedamutswu replied that since the allocation was made on 29 October, allocations had to be made within five months because of the financial year.

Ms Mathibela raised reports of programme food rotting - if the Department could not transport the food, could other Departments in the cluster not be used?

Ms Nwedamutswu replied that since this was a programme of the social cluster, other Departments' transport was used when necessary.

Mr Dlali asked about the sustainability of the process.

Ms Nwedamutswu replied that sustainability lay in the model adopted. The programme went beyond immediate food relief to formal social security payments, community production clusters and household production.

Mr Dlali asked with whom partnerships were formed and what the role of local government was in the programme.

Ms Nwedamutswu replied that partnerships were formed with civil society, parastatals, other departments in the social cluster and communities.

Ms G Smith (Department) replied that the local government had played a role in identifying households that qualified for assistance. This was verified by social workers.

Mr Bokaba (Gauteng Legislature) asked what proportion of funds was spent on personnel.

Ms Nwedamutswu replied that only three percent of funds went on indirect costs. No funding was spent on extra personnel since existing structures were used. Unfortunately this compromised quality since the public service was already stretched.

Mr Bokaba asked why only five thousand households in Gauteng were to be aided in the roll out in 2003. Gauteng attracted poor people from other provinces and the figure seemed low.

Ms Nwedamutswu replied that the programme could not help everyone. Prioritising was necessary and Stats SA figures had been used to find households in the A band (households that spent less than R200 per month on food).

The Chair asked how starter packs would aid people without land.

Ms Nwedamutswu replied that there was flexibility in the programme. They recognised that not all would have land so they had built in income generation initiatives. The form of these depended on the household.

Ms Ntuli asked if the Department had project managers monitoring the programme since without monitoring it would fail. The Department had to ensure that people received the income intended.

Ms Nwedamutswu replied that the Department was only now looking into setting up monitoring structures since it did not have a budget to set them up. Existing personnel had to be stretched. Social workers were being trained for community development. Stakeholders monitored the programme.

CSIR (Bio/Chemtek) submission
Dr A Bailey outlined how the CSIR could help improve food security. Lowering the cost of producing food could enhance economic access. Measures include reducing post-harvest lost, waste beneficiation, developing new processes and packaging, and developing drought-resistant crops. CSIR Job creation measures such as the essential oils project and the commercialisation of indigenous products boosted income and thus food security.

Food safety was promoted with the analytical programme, which tested fish, cereals and other foods for safety, and by local and international regulations. Food shelf life was evaluated. Shelf-stable products could be developed - currently products usually required refrigeration, products that did not should be developed. Packaging to preserve food better should be developed.

Food nutritional value could be improved. The Innovation fund project had contributed with a process to fortify food using fish heads. Food could be fortified and protein content increased. Alternative technologies could be developed to improve food quality. Products for immuno-deficient people could be developed. Genetic modification of crops allowed the addition of amino acids missing from indigenous food. Dr Bailey cited the licence given to the CSIR to transfer the vitamin A fortification in 'golden rice' to maize.

Ms Ntuli asked for elaboration on shelf life and shelf-stable products. Did shelf life refer to expiry dates?

Dr Bailey replied that shelf life referred to expiry dates. There were on-going attempts to extend shelf life. Shelf-stable referred to alternative products that could be safely stored without refrigeration, such as dehydrated products.

Mr Z Kotwal asked if extending shelf life and vitamin A fortification involved GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms).

Extending shelf life did not necessarily involve genetic modification. The vitamin A fortification in 'golden rice' and altering the amino acid profile of food was related to GMOs.

The hearing was adjourned.


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