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Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Thoko Didiza says efforts were under way to ensure food supply continues despite incidents of looting witnessed in KwaZulu-Natal this week.
Didiza met with the agriculture and food sector yesterday 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 should and that the planting and harvesting season continues as planned.
She said at the moment, it was currently the sugar cane and citrus harvesting season. The resumption of this harvesting remains 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 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,” she said.
“We are also concerned about the planting season, and if we do not get a movement that could impact the sector later in the year.”
Didiza said there was food in the country and urged citizens not to panic-buy and cause a shortage of supplies.
She said at the moment 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.
Meanwhile, Didiza’s colleagues in the ministry, public enterprises, trade and industry and justice and correctional services, met with 34 CEOs of the country’s largest companies on Friday.
Acting minister in the presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said the meetings were to deal with the aftermath of the sabotage and looting.
She said there was an agreement on the urgent need to focus on economic recovery for KwaZulu-Natal and help rebuild factories that had been damaged and minimise job losses.
“This collaboration between government and leading CEOs will lead to further immediate actions followed by more medium-term action plans using a ’Now, Next, Beyond’ approach.
“There was agreement that the immediate priority was to restore law and order, ensure the safety of our people, and respond to the availability of food and other essentials to all communities in KZN,” she said.