CAPE TOWN, Feb 28– A million hectares of land in South Africa will be made available over five years for communal agricultural production in an attempt to address food insecurity in poor households, says Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson.
She told a two day conference in Stellenbosch, about 50 kilometres east of here, Thursday, that the programme would also help bolster small farmers.
Noting that there was an increasing demand for food amidst climate change and extreme weather conditions, Joemat-Pettersson said this necessitated a greater need to focus on food security programmes, adding that the roll-out of a million hectares of fertile under-utilised land to small-scale farmers was aimed at ensuring that every household had food on the table.
“We cannot have land lie fallow while people are unemployed, while people are hungry. The aim of Government is to address hunger, unemployment and inequality between commercial farmers and subsistence farmers or smallholder farmers and to create jobs,” said the Minister.
Agri SA, the federation of agricultural organizations in the country, said that support should be directed urgently at emerging farmers, especially those in the poultry sector, the fastest growing sector, as this would assist with domestic food security.
Agri SA President Johannes Moller said: “We should have a re-look at tariffs and support schemes so that in the case of poultry we can produce more poultry in South Africa, so that in some way we can overcome the subsidy schemes of other countries.”
The Minister also announced the formation of a National Food and Security Advisory Council, which will have direct access to the office of President Jacob Zuma. The council will represent all agricultural sectors.