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Thoko Didiza meets with agriculture and food sector following unrest in KZN

By Zintle Mahlati Time of article publishedJul 16, 2021

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Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Thoko Didiza says the stability of the agriculture sector is critical to ensuring food insecurity does not become a reality, following days of unrest in KwaZulu-Natal.

Didiza met with the agriculture and food sector on Friday in KZN.

There have been growing concerns about the possibility of food shortages following days of unrest and looting in KZN and parts of Gauteng.

There have been long lines witnessed in parts of Durban as residents stood outside shopping malls to buy food essentials.

These snaking lines were due to some malls being shut down following looting incidents.

Didiza said her discussions with the food and agriculture sector were intended to come up with a plan to ensure food gets to where it is needed, and that the planting and harvesting season continues as planned.

She said it was currently sugar cane and citrus harvesting season, and that resumption of this harvesting remained critical for meeting seasonal demands.

The minister said this season would also see planting, and if the supplies were not delivered, harvesting for later in the year could be impacted.

“We are here to also meet with the agriculture sector and organised food sector, so that we get a sense of the challenges they have experienced and the impact of that.

“Currently it is the harvesting season for sugar cane and citrus, so we are concerned that if we do not stabilise the situation quickly, we may actually have some challenges in terms of sugar production.

“We are also concerned about the planting season, and if we do not get movement, that could impact the sector later in the year,” she said.

Didiza said there was food in the country, and urged citizens not to panic buy, and cause a shortage of supplies.

She said challenges with logistics were being mapped out, and would see food suppliers working with the security cluster to ensure food was delivered.

“We are also asking South Africans not to panic buy so that they will cause scarcity unnecessarily. We do have food available, but the logistics and movement have been an issue, and given that some retail shops have been vandalised, that might actually cause a little bit of a challenge.

“The network in the food industry will be able to work with various constituencies, with the support of the security cluster, to make sure food is available,” Didiza said.

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