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Summit to tackle high food prices

by Nthambeleni Gabara
on 10 Jul 2008
BuaNews Online
BuaNews Online

The two-day food summit taking place at Gallagher Estate in Midrand will enable the Gauteng Department of Agriculture to formulate a position on the pricing of food.

Speaking to BuaNews, departmental spokesperson Sizwe Matshikiza said the drivers behind surging food prices, such as the basic commodity prices more than doubling, were tricky to deal with as they were interlinked.

Gauteng Agriculture MEC Khabisi Mosunkuntu will officially open the food summit on Thursday.

With the current rising food prices, food expenditure accounts for more than 60 percent of household income.

Also there is an ever-increasing demand for food due to an increase in the population that does not correspond with the supply side.

The current food insecurity in South Africa consists of two dimensions, namely seeking to maintain and increase the ability of South Africa to meet its household and national food requirements and secondly to eradicate the widespread inequality and grinding poverty among the majority of households.

"Vigorous rising food prices are pushing millions of people deeper into poverty and hunger.

"The summit will suggest government interventions in collaboration with the private sector and other partnerships," Mr Mosunkuntu told BuaNews.

The gathering, he said, will also try to find ways to expand the Integrated Food Security Programme to fully support farmers to increase agricultural production along the value chain.

The poor and the unemployed are feeling the pinch and it is about to get worse with oil prices predicted to hit 200 US dollars towards the end of the year.

The agricultural sector is producing fewer supplies than ten years ago and international stock levels of major staples are at all-time lows.

This has resulted in a serious shortage of major staples such as rice, wheat and maize.

The National Agricultural Marketing Council report released in February shows the price of maize increased by 33.2 percent between January 2007 and January 2008, and wheat and sunflower by 81percent. - BuaNews

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