WELCOMING SPEECH BY MEC METH AT THE WORLD FOOD DAY

Programme Director;

The task I have been given is two fold. One is to appreciate and acknowledge the honored guests and secondly to welcoming people in this main activity.

For obvious reasons, let me start by acknowledging the honorable Minister, Thoko Didiza

King of Amampondo – Zanozuko
King of Abathembu – Zanelizwe
Hon deputy minister – Mcebisi Sikhwatsha
MEC of Rural Development and Agriculture in the North West, hon Ms Desbo Mohono
Chairperson Portfolio Committee on Rural Development and Agrarian Reform in the Eastern Cape
Honorable members of parliament and all legislatures
Her worship the Executive Mayor of O.R Tambo District
His worship the Executive Mayor of Joe Gqabi District
Acting Executive Mayor of Alfred Nzo District
His worship the Mayor of Ingquza Hill LM
Her worship the Mayor of PSJ
His worship the Mayor of Nyandeni
His worship the Mayor of KSD LM
Her worship the Mayor of Mbizana
Acting Mayor of Umzimvubu
Acting Mayor of Ntabankulu
Salga Eastern Cape
Dr Franscesco Pierri from FAO
All Mayoral Committee Members
All EXCO members
All councilors
NAFU
Business structures
Organised farmer organizations
All retail stores

Ladies and gentlemen

The year 2019 marks the 39th anniversary of the World Food Day commemorand the 74th anniversary of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) founded in 1945. This calendar day was proclaimed in 1979 by the conference of FAO aimed at reflecting and heightening public awareness of the world food problem and strengthening solidarity in the struggle against hunger, malnutrition and poverty.

During the World Food Summit in 1996, Heads of State and governments reaffirmed “the right of everyone to have access to safe and nutritious food, consistent with the right to adequate food and the fundamental right of everyone to be free from hunger.” These laudable efforts were further given impetus by the declaration of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2000, which were later succeeded by the 2015 sustainable development goals (SDGs) for 2030 agenda.

The choice of “Our Actions Are Our Future. Healthy Diets For A #ZeroHunger World” as the theme for 2019 World Food Day demonstrates increasing recognition by the international community of the important role of human rights in eradicating hunger and poverty and hastening and deepening sustainable development. In terms of Chapter two, section 27.1b of the Constitution of South Africa (1996), government guarantees progressive social rights, that every citizen has the right to have access to sufficient food and water and that the State must take reasonable legislative and other measures, within its available resources, to achieve realisation of this right.
Furthermore, the Constitution mandates government departments to develop appropriate legislation and programmes to achieve the right to adequate and nutritious food. The role of government regarding the right to food is two folds: Firstly, the creations of an environment where society is able to produce their own food or empowered socio-economically to have a purchasing power and secondly, provide direct assistance to the poor and vulnerable through social safety nets.

In a progressive response to this constitutional requirement, government has established an Integrated Food Security Strategy with the purpose of streamlining, harmonising and integrating the different food security programs being implemented by different government departments so as to “attain universal physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food by all South Africans at all times to meet their dietary and food preferences for an active and healthy life.”

Despite our national food security and relative wealth, the experience of most South African households especially in rural areas is that of continued poverty which is manifested in food insecurity, ill-health and arduous work for low returns.

Like many developing countries, South Africa’s inability to satisfy essential needs is caused by a number of factors. However, poverty and hunger in particular were shaped by apartheid and are a consequence thereof. One of the harshest and most brutal aspects of this system was a process of active disposition of assets such as land and livestock from the black majority, while the opportunity to develop, access to markets, infrastructure and human development were denied the majority of our people.

Over two thirds of ultra-poor households are located in rural areas and more than half have members who are pensioners and whose main supporters are women. Underlying the lack of purchasing power by this segment of the population is the limited scope of income opportunities, especially in the rural areas. Lack of economic activities in close proximity to the rural communities’ aggravates access to employment.

We are resolute in helping emerging black farmers to commercialize as the department in the province. The commercial black farmers have a critical role to play in expanding capacity to produce to meet projected future demand for food.

In order to successfully achieve food security for all, we must strengthen associations such as Women in Agriculture and Rural Development (WARD). The assistance to such structures should include breaking of constraints related to lack of access to markets, transport, market infrastructure, collection and storage of produce, bargaining power and finally lack of institutional responsibility focused at ensuring marketing access for small farmers.

The same vigor must be given to youth involvement in agriculture. I am talking here about our own YARD – the Youth in Agriculture and Rural Development structure. The growing enthusiasm in agriculture by young people is heart worming and must be encouraged.

In this financial year as the department, we have set R10 million to support young entrepreneurs in agriculture. Further on, we will engage with Mr minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development for avail farms to young people. A particular focus is on the dormant farmers within the province.

It thus is important to emphasize this. In this 6th administration, as the department, we will work with producers who are committed to work the land and are prepared to be at the forefront of their own development. Agriculture is about commitment! Agriculture is about having your hands dirty!

The time for brief case Gucci farmers has passed!

We have committed ourselves to the creation of the “Green Eastern Cape – the Eastern Cape we want”.

In the ensuing financial year, work is starting to bridge the gap between the green western region and the eastern part which remains brown with degraded land caused by over grazing.

With R4.4 million, we are helping farmers with irrigation infrastructure upgrades and electrical connections for Qamata, R4.2 million for Tyefu scheme (Ngqushwa) development planning and Upper Gxulu (Amahlathi) for storage shed and ablution facilities for global GAP compliance, and blueberry production infrastructure.

In Kieskammahoek based in Amahlathi, an irrigation area have been allocated R1 million, and Port St Johns irrigation area have been allocated R1.4 million for vegetable production covering 457 ha and 150 ha.

In Port St johns, the Department is expanding the current irrigated 83ha vegetable production by supporting farmers with production inputs, initiate a packhouse and develop a nursery in collaboration with DEDEAT. Furthermore, an amount of R0.5 million is allocated for a feasibility study on a vegetable packhouse for Port St Johns vegetable producers to be registered as a co-operative.

For the 6th administration, Rural Development and Agrarian Reform in the Eastern Cape will pursue “A sustainable agriculture sector that drives food security, agro-processing and contributes to industrialisation, Rural Development and wealth creation”

Vibrant, sustainable and resilient smallholder farming sector is vital for South Africa’s economic future. While productivity of the smallholder farmers has to grow to its full potential, it still lags behind the white commercial agricultural sector, and has not delivered the development dividends to significantly reduce poverty, particularly in rural areas. Considering that more than half of the population in rural areas still rely on agriculture as a source of food and the poorest households, food makes up almost three quarter of consumption expenditure. As a result low productivity of smallholder farmers, the growing urban population is also confronted with higher food prices. In order to make a significant dent on poverty, one of the key elements that can accelerate change and unleash growth is to catalyse a shift towards a deliberate policy efforts to make black farmers commercially viable, efficient aligned to sustain the rigors of progressive climate change.

I thank you!

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