Parliament, Thursday, 23 April 2020 – The Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Land and Rural Development calls on the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Ms Thoko Didiza, to urgently intervene to stop the disruption of the agricultural value chain, which supplies the nation and neighbouring countries with food.
“We already have to contend with the effects of the pandemic and widespread hunger and poverty among our people and it will be a total travesty if we have to add to that burden, that is, chronic food shortages and lack of food security,” said the Chairperson of the committee, Nkosi Zwelivelile Mandela.
The committee has received a number of complaints from both commercial and small-scale farmers regarding issues that affect their agricultural activities. This has included the illegality of livestock auctions (generally fewer than 50 people), access to spares and implements vital for farming activity, lack of support especially for small-scale farmers as offices are closed, and farmers being turned back at borders with fresh produce because of issues with the requisite permits.
Commercial and small-scale farmers appealed to the Minister, requesting a special dispensation for all in the agricultural value chain that ensures food security for the nation and allows food to reach markets and distribution hubs without any disruptions that may impact negatively, both in terms of additional costs and time, on the food reaching the markets.
We are also concerned about our ability to meet the requirements of international clients and markets, as these countries will go elsewhere if we fail to supply them. We call on the Department of Agriculture to improve its support to its mandated constituency, the commercial and small-scale farmers, in the best interests of the country and our nation. The consequences of a prolonged disruption of the agricultural value chain is too grave to imagine and the impact on the nation will be of epic proportions.
We acknowledge Minister Didiza’s response to the plight of the agricultural sector and appeal to the Chairperson of the Disaster Management Committee, Ms Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Mr Ronald Lamola, the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, to treat this matter with the utmost urgency as delays in effecting the necessary interventions may have disastrous consequences.
ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMUNICATION SERVICES ON BEHALF OF THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE, LAND REFORM AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT, NKOSI ZWELIVELILE MANDELA.
For media enquiries or interviews with the Chairperson, please contact the committee’s Media Officer:
Name: Sureshinee Govender
Parliamentary Communication Services
Tel: 021 403 2289
Cell: 081 704 1109
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