South Africa part of international food challenge

Johannes Möller, president of Agri SA recently participated in a conference:  “Food Challenges – Worldwide Farmers Speak Up!” that was held in Paris, France on 16 and 17 June 2011 attended by 120 agricultural and farmers’ organisations from 75 countries and where world food challenges were discussed and farmers’ views in this regard presented.  The ultimate aim of the conference was to present heads of state of the G20 nations with a consolidated view on how the world food situation and specifically sufficient and sustainable production should be approached.

“It was made abundantly clear during the discussions that food production, should due to inter alia demographic pressures be stepped up significantly in the next few decades”, Möller said.

According to Möller there remains differing views on how food production can be increased on a sustainable basis, what international marketing rules should apply, how standards can be harmonised, how rural poverty can be alleviated, how climate change should be dealt with and how the value chain should be incorporated with a view to food security.  “Obviously these are vexed issues requiring ongoing attention and debate”, Möller said.

“A stark reality that once again came to the fore was that many African countries will continue to need food aid from the developed world.  This stands in sharp contrast to the general view and practical reality that the major part of untapped agricultural potential is in Africa”, he said.

What was also made very clear during the meeting was that without individual property rights or at least an acceptable level of tenure and investment security the necessary levels of investment in agriculture to enhance and maintain food production will not be forthcoming.

“Given the disappointing history of land restitution in South Africa and government’s lukewarm approach to nationalisation it would seem as if political imperatives could also compromise the food sovereignty of South Africa”, Möller said.