A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.
AGRICULTURE AND LAND AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
27 May 2003
FOOD SECURITY HEARINGS: FINALISATION
Chairperson: Mr N H Masithela (ANC)
Documents handed out:
Committee Report On Hearings Into Food Security:
AGRICULTURE AND LAND AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
National African Farmworkers' Union submission Presented by Glenn Ashton. Appendix 4
Agriculture Research Council submission
National Agricultural Marketing Council submission
Earthlife Africa submission
Red Meat Producers' Organisation submission
Nation Chamber of Milling presentation
Department of Social Development presentation
CSIR Bio/Chemtek presentation
ABALIMI submission (Appendix 1)
SANGOCO submission (Appendix 2)
Contralesa submission (Appendix 3)
Department of Agriculture submission (Appendix 4)
Environmental Monitoring Group submission (Appendix 5)
Maximill submission (Appendix 6)
Pick 'n Pay submission (Appendix 7)
PLAAS submission (Appendix 8)
S A Poultry submission (Appendix 9)
The lessons learned from these public hearings (Appendix 10)
The Committee discussed the report on food security in South Africa that would be forwarded to Parliament The Chairperson concentrated on the lessons learned from the public hearings and recommendations that were added to the report. The agenda also included the Zimbabwe Report.
The Committee was happy with the report on the content of lessons learned from the public hearing. They however engaged in lengthy intense debates about the recommendations as stipulated in the report. Most of the concerns members raised had already been catered for within the broad recommendations of the report.
However, Members felt some areas needed to be more specific when using terminology such as infrastructure (to include the infrastructure of departmental services, the upgrading of roads, dipping facilities, fencing, irrigation schemes, and the utilisation of land) and in reference to stakeholders, (specific mention of NGOs was requested by Dr A Schoeman (ANC)) This was emphasised particularly because the report was going to be made accessible to various departmental sectors and the public. The chairperson was very worried about the report sounding prescriptive.
The Chairperson, Mr N Masithela (ANC),turned down Ms R Kasienyane's (ANC) suggestion that constituencies be used to monitor the proper co-ordination of food parcels as this would open up the ANC -which had the most constituencies- for political criticism.
Dr A Van Niekerk (FA) strongly felt that the problem of food insecurity could not be solved by relying entirely on agriculture, but rather in the creation of jobs.
The Chairperson pointed out that reference to government in the report was there to bind all government clusters.
The Chairperson said the problem lay in the concurrence of power and the priority lists of provincial Government and National Government, hence it involved the constitution.
Mr Botha (DA) warned that if the Committee was pushing for the amendment of the Constitution they ought to be very careful and said he was of the definite opinion that food security could be achieved without tampering with the Constitution and was thus uncomfortable about any suggestions to amend it.
Dr Schoeman (ANC) and Mr P Nefolovhodwe (AZAPO) both felt the Constitution was not cast in stone, and supported suggestions to amend it if the amendment would be an investment in improvement.
Adoption of Recommendations
Recommendations 1-5 adopted without amendments:
1-That government should speedily finalize the research it is conducting around food security legislation and ensure that it is tabled before house in the next term of Parliament.
2-Committee appreciates attempts by the government of ensuring that citizens have access to food, however, government should develop mechanisms that will enable people to access food at reasonable prices. Creation of the strategic food reserves and consider releasing food from the reserves when the country is in the dier need for a particular period e.g. when the price is very high and or during the year of scarcity.
3-Food parcels are a short-term intervention, medium and long-term strategy should be developed coupled with agriculture starter-packs for people who have land and those who deserve and are or wish to be in subsistence farming;
4-The agricultural start-up packs should be allocated money from the R400 million alleviation fund and or from other government sources before the end of term so as to enable those who are able to plough, to do so etc.
5-Government departments in collaboration and or in co-operation with private sector should ensure that where needed, all utilized and under utilized irrigation schemes are fully utilized;
Recommendation 6 was adopted with amendments: to include for example fencing.
6 - Government should ensure that it improves agricultural infrastructure for development at all levels in the country.
Recommendations 7 to 9 were adopted without recommendations
7 - The government should investigate means of ensuring that all perishable foods are marked with expiry dates;
8 - Parliament and or government should convene different stakeholders especially private sector in the country to financially and programmatically discuss and pledge their support to reduce food insecurity.
9 - The government should ensure that whiles ARC is correctly researching for well- established commercial farmers, it should also intensify its research capacity on indigenous crops more especially for subsistence and small scale and the emerging farmers.
Mr A Botha (DP) objected to recommendation 10
10 - Parliament should amend the relevant sections of the Constitution in order to facilitate the implementation of policy directives of the Minister of Agriculture and Land Affairs in provincial areas of competencies of the Department of Agriculture.
In the course deliberations two more recommendations arose and were adopted:
That the government should work very closely with NGOs and CBOs working on food security programmes.
All forms of farming should be assisted by the research and extension services.
The report was adopted with the "lessons learned" and the developed new recommendations.
Discussion on Zimbabwe Report
The Chairperson reported that the report could not be finalised this week. He expressed his concern about the three different statements released to the media upon their return from their visit to Zimbabwe. He had issued a statement to the media on behalf of the Committee as its chairperson, that an official report would be released after the delegation had reported back to the Committee and Parliament. Subsequently the media reported statements from Advocate P Holomisa (ANC)and Mr A Botha (DA) about the same visit. The main concern was that the public had been given the impression that these statements were issued by members as Portfolio Committee delegates.
Both Mr Holomisa and Mr Botha said they had spoken in their personal capacity.
Mr Botha added that it was his constitutional right to give his personal impression. He also indicated that both the public and the media were present with them in Zimbabwe.
Advocate Holomisa said that he found it difficult not to comment on the land issues of Zimbabwe when approached as president of Contralesa because they were dealing with land issues and the land bill. He added that he would welcome guidelines about this as they would promote consistency and highlight the committees good work.
The Chairperson highlighted that both delegates had been sent to Zimbabwe as delegates in their capacity as members of the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture and Land Affairs.
Mr P Nefolovhodwe advised that apart from advance indication from the chair requesting delegates not to speak to the media, guidelines needed to be put in place - and not for just this committee - but for all committees returning from visits of this nature as to how to respond to the media. He explained that despite that many members may wear different cap, in Parliament they had been forwarded to represent their respective parties on the Portfolio Committee; the guidelines would need to clarify how to accommodate, or not accommodate the different levels of representatively members held.
Ms Ntuli (ANC) felt that the next time this happened Members should be sanctioned.
The chairperson said he was not saying Members could not respond on issues pertaining to committee issues and decision, but members should not deal with them before the committee had resolved them. He added that in this they were trying to promote hegemony.
The meeting was adjourned.
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.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.
Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa
The presenter, pointed out that up to 80% of the population lived on 13% of the land. Big companies exploited natural resources and local people did not benefit.
He maintained that the underlying principle of the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) was biased toward rural development but results from this had yet to be seen. He argued that on the issue of food security and other governmental programmes and policies, CONTRALESA should be consulted as subsistence farming was the livelihood of many rural inhabitants. In addition, the presenter called for arable allotments, livestock and self-help schemes to promote development.
Â· More advocacy work was needed for the shift from urban bias in favour of rural
Â· Promoting of self-help schemes, that is, projects to promote rural areas.
The Government through local economic development programmes specifically
designed for these areas can assist these emergent farmers.
Â· More initiative from government to promote agriculture.
Provision of tractors and other farm implements, with appropriate seed and fertiliser, irrigation systems, support services from institutions such as the Agricultural Research Council (ARC), the National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC). Additional extension officers in rural areas. Funds for these tools can be made available by the conversion of housing subsidies to be used for the promotion of agriculture, as housing is not a priority in communal areas.
Department of Agriculture
The Deputy Director-General, Mr M Mbongwa, focused on the Integrated Food Security and Nutrition Programme for South Africa
Mr Mbongwa mentioned the following challenges facing the nation and the Department in particular:
Â· The large amount of food being imported, whereas the rural black population
should largely be exporters of food products.
Â· Uneven food supply chain systems.
Â· Unstable household food production.
Â· Lack of food purchasing power.
Â· Low income and job opportunities.
Â· Poor household nutrition and food safety.
Â· Weak community infrastructure.
Â· Lack of information and communication systems; and Weak food crisis
Those groups categorised as the most vulnerable were infants and lactating mothers, children, child-headed households, female-headed households, people infected and affected by HIV and AIDS and disaster victims. These cover 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. The income of vulnerable people was less than R600 per month. The Department's approach to alleviate the problem is to identify and tackle the worst problems, improve short-term problems and provide basic food baskets consistent with household sizes.
The strategic objective of the Department was to improve safety nets and food emergency management systems and this would necessitate the R400 million packages 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.
The Food Security Strategy of the Department comprises four sub-units: Food Production and Trading, Community Development, Nutrition and Food Safety and Social Safety Nets and Food Emergency.
Under the list of the expected outputs, the DDG mentioned a supply chain management system for basic foods, school nutrition scheme, school garden schemes, and community food centres.
The Implementation Plan of the Integrated Food and Nutrition Programme for South Africa hopes to establish the following:
Â· A national food and nutrition task team.
Â· Provincial food and nutrition task teams.
Â· District food and nutrition task teams.
Â· Local food and nutrition task teams.
Â· Community-based food and nutrition organisations; and
Â· Food and Nutrition Agency (FANA).
The implementation plan also intends to:
Â· Audit existing food and nutrition security schemes.
Â· Design food coupon schemes.
Â· Set key performance indicators.
Â· Set service delivery standards.
Â· Consult on food security legislation; and
Â· Convene a food and nutrition summit.
Â· Establish management and administrative structures.
Â· Design information and communication systems. Design monitoring and
Environmental Monitoring Group (EMG)
EMG is an independent NGO based in Cape Town. Formed in 1992, the organisation has programmes in rural livelihoods, trade and water justice. The NGO serves as the NGO Focal Point for the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification and for the past 3 years has been supporting the efforts of a community of small-scale rooibos tea producers in the Northern Cape to enhance their food security and improve their quality of life.
The perspectives and interests of the small-scale rooibos tea producers, known as the Heiveld Cooperative, in the Northern Cape, dominated this submission.
The community was historically disadvantaged, and as late as 1997, received only R2.00 per kilogram of rooibos tea. 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. The presenter maintained that Europe is a fairly well developed sector in fair market practices, and that organic produce is a large industry in Europe.
On the issue of biodiversity, food security and GMOs, the presenter pointed out that:
Â· Rooibos tea is a fine example of the gift to the world from the heritage of
Â· Genetic modification of rooibos would damage the reputation of rooibos as a
Â· Legislation should ensure that potential risks to the natural environment
should be assessed before any genetic modification of organisms takes place.
Â· No GMO should be released into the environment before a full Environmental Impact
Assessment has been carried out.
Â· Legislators should ensure food security and biodiversity GMOs out of natural
Maximill Rollermill Manufacturers Overview
This submission was a response to amendments to the regulations applicable under the Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act, 1 972 (Act No.54 of 1972), as announced by the Minister of Health on 18 October 2002.
The regulations for the fortification of foodstuffs announced by the Minister of Health have been designed for the operations of large millers and food manufacturers. However, these regulations will also apply, and have devastating consequences for, small rural millers, including owners of hand-operated mills who grind maize for their neighbours.
According to the new regulations, millers are required to fortify maize meal, since their nutritional value was depleted because of removing the kernel from the maize. However, this submission contended that small millers, did not remove the kernel from the maize, and this dramatically increased the nutritional value. It is highly likely, this submission pointed out, that fortification is intended to replace the nutritional value, at least largely, lost in the process of removing the kernel.
The consequence of the imposition of the regulations for fortification of maize meal would be to make the small rural millers illegal. The small millers would find it impossible to cover the cost or deal with the complexity of complying with the regulations. They would be put out of business and the communities would suffer.
A possible solution to the maize problem would be to exempt small millers that:
Â· Grind whole maize without removing the kernels, or
Â· Grind less than a specified volume of maize per annum.
Pick and Pay
This submission addressed the concerns of Pick and Pay about food security, social investment and food prices. The presenter maintained that there was a responsibility of big business to take formalised retailing to poor areas where the cheapest food is usually found in the largest stores.
The presenter pointed out that existing structures have efficient and competent distribution mechanisms for targeted food assistance. It was therefore also important for other groups involved in the food sector, for example, manufacturers and producers that increased prices, which affected consumers, not to take advantage of the service.
On the issue of social investment, the presenter argued that Pick and Pay was the largest single employer in South Africa and this resulted in redistribution and wealth creation. Of the profits made by Pick and Pay, 8% of pre-tax profit was dedicated to social investment. Concerning food prices, the presenter said that primary producers needed to commit to keeping basic food prices down and that this was achievable.
The presenter welcomed the appointment of the Food Price Commission, but maintained that the sensationalism over food prices in the media distorted reality. In conclusion, he pointed out that the South African retail sector is as competent and sophisticated as any other in the world. The responsibility of Pick and Pay to consumers was absolute and any initiative requiring their assistance was welcome at any time should the need arise.
Â· Black farmers need facilitated access to land, agricultural skills, food
Production opportunities and consumer markets.
Â· Appropriate infrastructure will enable the emerging Black farmers to deliver
foodstuffs more efficiently to consumer areas most affected by shortages
this entails enabling farming activities closer to the poor communities.
Â· Increased access to water for emerging Black farmers is crucial if viable and
sustainable food production is to be achieved.
Â· Black farmers will be set to fail if the transfer of land and access to farming
opportunities is not strongly supported by a constructive and sustainable
transfer of agricultural production and management skills.
Â· The mechanisms that allow farmers access to markets must be reviewed with
the objective of making it possible for emerging farmers to compete (or
collaborate) with commercial operations. Incentives aimed at promoting
collaboration between emerging and existing food producers needs further
Â· Emerging commercial agricultural development must enjoy increasing priority
in broader development strategies.
Â· The Land Redistribution and Agricultural Development (LRAD) integrated
programme and the implementation of the Communal Land Bill as well as
increased access to development funding will alleviate the lack of access to
land currently being experienced by the Black farming community.
Â· Preferential treatment for emerging farmers must be linked to food production
and performance criteria appropriate to their specific environment.
Â· Assisted rehabilitation of the debt of emerging Black farmers should be given
high priority. This programme must be underpinned by a mechanism to
ensure sustainable commercial viability of those affected.
Â· A definite need for strong institutional support for Black subsistence farmers
to attain commercially viable food producers status.
Â· Implement a special protocol for beef under the MERCOSUR agreement in
order to apply the normal import tariff.
Red Meat Quality Standards
It is vitally important that red meat quality and standards are guaranteed to the consumer.
Â· A single assignee is appointed to deliver an independent meat inspection
service in the red meat industry
Â· Malignant Catarrhal Fever should be declared a controlled disease and the
relocation of wildebeest should be regulated. Every effort should be made to
develop a vaccine against this livestock disease.
Programme for Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS), School of Government, University of the Western Cape -Chronic Poverty and Food Security
A survey of 540 households in the poor communities of Ceres, an export fruit-growing centre in the Western Cape, showed that hunger increased in winter months when jobs outside the peak seasonal harvest times became scarce. Only 9% of residents had access to land for food production and less than 1% could graze livestock, according to research by the Programme for Land and Agrarian Studies (Plaas) at the University of the Western Cape.
Researchers called for urgent measures to ease access to land and water, and for support for household food production. In the longer term, therefore, efforts aimed at improving food security at the household level has to pay attention to the spatial patterns of settlement, and encouraging settlement patterns that, even in urban and pen-urban areas, would allow for sustainable food production.
South African Poultry Association
The submission focused on the major challenges and problems encountered in accessing maize to sustain the egg, broiler and chick industry. The industry consumes 30% of all the maize produced in the country. However, as the poultry industry does not own the feed industry, as is the case in many other countries, large profits are lost within this sector. Another added burden to the flailing industry is that though maize is a vital component to the industry, maize production is not functioning well. This was attributed to the increase in tariffs implemented on the product.
The lessons learned from these public hearings
All though section 27(b) of the Constitution of the country says that everyone has the right to access to sufficient food and water, and direct the state to take reasonable legislative and other measures within its available resources to achieve the progressive realisation of these rights, but the majority of our people still do not have sufficient nor access to food as they should;
Cognisance of both chapter 3 and schedule 4 of the constitution there seems to be a lack of co-ordination and communication first between and amongst the three sphere of government and departments in relation to policy implementation and programmes impacting on food security, secondly same communication seem to be problem between private sector, community based organisation and non government organization and government.
On the high and unacceptable food prices in the country, the question of government intervention at this stage in particular on staple food availability to the majority of the country is undisputable, the question is how and at what stage must the government intervene
One sector that government can use and that has and can play very important role to create employment and stimulate the economy through agricultural development;
It seems there are tracts of an unused agricultural land as well as the irrigation schemes (infrastructure) in the country that is not utilized effectively or is under utilized;
There seems to be sufficient food in the South Africa both to feed the nation and for export;
For the country to achieve the Food and Agriculture Organisation and government's target of reducing poverty by half by 2015, there is a need and responsibility on all role players to encourage the utilization of all production options in farming.
All forms of farming be it commercial, small-scale and subsistence farming need to be assisted amongst other things by land acquisition, research, markets and extension services at all levels because one sector that should play leading role in reducing poverty by half or more by 2015 is agriculture and land affaires.
Food parcels programme while its is a good thing to be done, The programme alone will not alleviate poverty.
The programme itself was not properly co-ordinated and communicated to communities,
Some of the intended beneficiaries did not receive the food.
Inappropriate agricultural knowledge, technologies, and practices, including pricing, marketing, tax and tariff policies as well as inadequate agricultural inputs contribute to lack of food security.
The role played by private companies in the promotion of food security is very little and uncoordinated
The increase in population is not matched with need for an increase in food production; marketing and transportation systems, which inhibit the cost-effective movement of food from source to need;
Inability to predict, assess and cope with emergency situations that interrupt food supplies; natural resource, climatic, and (especially in Africa) disease constraints; donor disinterest or fatigue; and political choice on the part of the host government at any level.
Inadequate training and/or no job skills.
Lack of credit or other means to exchange assets or income streams; and Food losses associated with ineffective and inefficient harvesting, storage, processing and handling.
Nutrient losses associated with food preparation; inadequate knowledge and practice of health techniques, including those related to nutrition, child care and sanitation; and
It is obvious, as many of the submission showed, that many potential factors contribute to food insecurity. There is general agreement, however, that nutrition and food security programmes cannot be effective if they address only the symptoms, and if they are implemented in an isolated manner.
Committee therefore recommends
That government should speedily finalize the research it is conducting around food security legislation and ensure that it is tabled before house in the next term of Parliament.
Committee appreciates attempts by the government of ensuring that citizens have access to food, however, government should develop mechanisms that will enable people to access food at reasonable prices. Creation of the strategic food reserves and consider releasing food from the reserves when the country is in the dier need for a particular period e.g. when the price is very high and or during the year of scarcity.
Food parcels are a short-term intervention, medium and long-term strategy should be developed coupled with agriculture starter-packs for people who have land and those who deserve and are or wish to be in subsistence farming;
The agricultural start-up packs should be allocated money from the R400 million alleviation fund and or from other government sources before the end of term so as to enable those who are able to plough, to do so etc.
Government departments in collaboration and or in co-operation with private sector should ensure that where needed, all utilized and under utilized irrigation schemes are fully utilized;
Government should ensure that it improves agricultural infrastructure for development at all levels in the country.
The government should investigate means of ensuring that all perishable foods are marked with expiry dates;
Parliament and or government should convene different stakeholders especially private sector in the country to financially and programmatically discuss and pledge their support to reduce food insecurity.
The government should ensure that whiles ARC is correctly researching for well- established commercial farmers, it should also intensify its research capacity on indigenous crops more especially for subsistence and small scale and the emerging farmers.
Parliament should amend the relevant sections of the Constitution in order to facilitate the implementation of policy directives of the Minister of Agriculture and Land Affairs in provincial areas of competencies of the Department of Agriculture.
The Department of Land Affairs should investigate the land utilization patterns to enable needy persons to access both unused and under utilised land.
Presented by Glenn Ashton.
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.
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.