Industry association Agri SA has called on government and the private sector to contribute to a R1-billion food drive initiative.
The association says that, with winter putting strain on food systems and with Covid-19 and general economic conditions leaving many households food insecure, a collective effort is needed to assist food insecure communities throughout the country.
According to Statistics South Africa, the proportion of respondents who reported experiencing hunger has increased to 7% currently from 4.3% at the start of the national lockdown.
The Northern Cape, North West and Mpumalanga had the highest percentages of households that had severely inadequate access to nutritional food at 12.9%, 12.5% and 11.4%, respectively.
The Eastern Cape is also known to be one of the most food insecure provinces, since nearly 70% of households spend less than R1 000 a month on food.
As a whole, South Africa still had 13-million people, or almost 25% of its population, with inadequate access to food.
Agri SA says there are several ways to contribute to the R1-billion food aid initiative, by sponsorship, donation, cash, vouchers, food aid or contribution to transport costs to provide the food aid to those in need.
The association mentions that various agricultural entities are embarking on their own food aid initiatives, which can be integrated with Agri SA’s R1-billion food initiative.
“The short-term impact of Covid-19 is being felt by all, owing to the widespread lockdown regulations and other imposing economic reasons. This national emergency demands cooperation, collaboration and common action, as this pandemic it is set to have long-lasting, profound economic, social, political, and cultural impacts,” Agri SA says.
The call for contributions to the food drive follows one day after the association bemoaned government cutting the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development’s budget for agricultural programmes, instead of the department's wage bill.
Budget programmes promoting food security, land redistribution and restitution, as well as agricultural support, were reduced by R1.89-billion, while the department’s salary bill was only reduced by R300-million.