“Our province is the most inadequate out of [all] the nine provinces when it comes to food security,” said North West agriculture and rural development MEC Desbo Mohono during a provincial food system dialogue.
Hosted recently, the dialogue explored public and private partnerships to scale up food systems solutions in North West during and beyond Covid-19.
The MEC revealed 1,7 million people of the 4 million in the province are food insecure. She also indicated that her department has a number of projects and initiatives to address food insecurity.
“We will ensure access to safe and nutritious food to all, and we will build an inclusive, sustainable, and competitive value chain,” she vowed.
To ensure this, Mohono indicated that her department would support and include previously disadvantaged and underdeveloped farmers into the formalised agricultural value chain.
“We have realised that the previously disadvantaged farmers and producers are not yet linked into the formalised and diverse value chain. But I would also like to challenge our farmers.
“Research has confirmed that most of our farmers don’t want to comply and, as a result, it disadvantages them in the market.”
Mohono urged academia, community-based and farmer organisations, as well as other role players to collaborate to make the “nutritious food fathom” a reality in the province.
Access to safe and nutritious food
Meanwhile, Thupi Mokhatla, head of the North West department of agriculture and rural development, said Covid-19 created an opportunity to reconfigure the country’s food security system.
He said the province is participating fully in the development of the master plans for poultry and agricultural and processing as well the horticulture empowerment promotion programme.
“Strides are also being made for participation in the cannabis master plan. All this is done to ensure food and nutrition security, thus affording our people the right access to food.”
Professor Sheryl Hendricks, head of the department for agricultural economics, extension and rural development at the University of Pretoria, added that South Africa has a goal to ensure safe and nutritious food for all people by 2030.
Hendricks said Covid-19 has increased food safety and nutrition inequalities. Also, the pandemic also highlighted issues with water safety and sanitation that hinders food safety.
“From the annual survey done by statistics South Africa, we know that over time hunger, both of the household and the individual levels, have been dropping.
“So, we have been making headway. We know, for example, social grants have made a major contribution to this, but we know that even in Africa we are concerned that many of the gains made in reducing hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition have been lost through the Covid pandemic.”