Food security colloquium 2030: Unpacking the national development plan

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Food security and agriculture colloquium kicked off with much enthusiasm at the University of Fort Hare in Alice yesterday. The strategic interactive debate on the future of food security and agriculture was organized by the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Fort Hare, Professor Sakhela Buhlungu, with support from the Oliver & Adelaide Tambo Foundation and Absa Bank Limited. The dialogue’s main focuses were on food production, food accessibility and the viability of mechanism and intervention in place to ensure that food is secure for the future for all.

The one-day event featured a panel which consisted of a farmer, a chief economist of AgriSA, the professor of Meat Science in the University of Fort Hare and also a senior agricultural economist from ABSA. Prof. Sakhela Buhlungu kick started the debate with confirming that there are indeed many programs that are currently aimed at food security and agriculture but that feels as though there is failure somewhere in implementation. He stated that there are evident initiatives but the dialogue is only there to address a way forward in execution the information which may come up from the discussion.

Lots of topics were raised in the debate which were aligned to food security and agriculture in South Africa, namely: climate change, urbanization of agricultural land into urbanization, the double burden which is obesity and also food security. Sibuyiselwe Sontundu, a farmer in the livestock, poultry, cropping and processes sector, argued and advised that the focus should be on the youth to venture into the industry of farming so as to come up with better inventions on farming thus resulting to the benefit of the human race as opposed to farming being seen as only a hobby for the bored elderly. With that kind of strategy, she further said that instead of the youth gaining a qualification and then looking for employment, they will create the employment for many others. Voster Muchenje who is a professor at the University of Fort Hare was in agreement with Sontundu stating that in as much as ‘think-tanks’ are needed, ‘do-tanks’ are also needed because every vision without action is useless. Furthermore, Muchenje highlighted that the challenge to food security is the right to adequate nutrition. Unpacking the statement by saying that in South Africa food is produced in high volumes but there is an excess of people in the country which is why food becomes insufficient for all the inhabitants.

He further stated that the excess of people in the country leads to the land which is made for agriculture to be converted into urban areas which in turn results to the key factors in climate change and food security. “When you urbanise you take land which is meant for agriculture and you build on it, hence the result of climate change” he emphasised.

Chief economist of AgriSA, Hamlet Hlomendlini advises that the best way to attend to this is to create an alliance between government, farmers and also private sector, thus ensuring participation in all stakeholders in agriculture for the betterment of all the people in this country.While Wessel Lemmer who is a senior agricultural economist at Absa advised the youth on the ways of finding investments when wanting to start an agricultural business.He said that the institutions where voices can be heard with regards to agriculture is going to an Absa Economist and also GrandSA for some advise.

In as much as food insecurity was seen and discussed as a great concern for many households in South Africa, some solutions came from the public and students which stated that the available resources should be exploited so as to yield a positive feedback to the challenges faced currently. It was also discussed that some of the best ways to follow suit on the problem currently of food security is to follow the footsteps of rural households which use five key pathways to address their food insecurity and poverty: an agricultural path; a multiple-activity path; an assistance path; a micro-enterprise path and an exit path