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Agri SA warns of growing food insecurity

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South Africa runs the risk of people not being able to buy or access food and farmers are bearing the brunt of the violent protests, Agri SA said.

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AGRI SA executive director Christo van der Rheede has warned of growing food insecurity with the looting continuing in two major provinces.

Van der Rheede said the looting of shops, stoning of cars, blocking of roads, burning of trucks and crops as well as theft of livestock were posing a serious threat to food security in the country.

“South Africa runs the risk of people not being able to buy or access food. This will lead to hunger and starvation on a national scale, which in turn will fuel even more social unrest and mayhem.”

He detailed reports that he has received: “Fresh produce, especially tomatoes, cannot be kept for long because it goes off then you sit with a problem. But then also, other farmers had their sugar cane fields destroyed and, in some instances, other produce was set alight. We’ve also seen a large scale theft of livestock at one of the markets in KZN … people ran away with chickens, pigs, goats and sheep. Those are big losses for farmers.”

Van der Rheede said that for the looters “it’s all about eating now”, without understanding how the acts would have an effect on communities.

Agri SA had appealed to the presidency to declare a national state of emergency to bring an end to the wave of criminality that has taken root in the country.

“In addition, we also call on the presidency to ensure that our logistical infrastructure, such as our roads, harbours and airports, continue to function in order for food to be delivered.”

Van der Rheede said he received information about a Mpumalanga farmer who had lost R3 million within three days (Friday to Sunday), because he could not deliver fresh produce to KwaZulu-Natal.

In addition, some farmers’ sugar cane fields were destroyed and livestock such as chicken, sheep and pigs were stolen.