Agriculture Minister, Thoko Didiza, says they are working with farmers and other role players to avoid food shortage.
She was in KwaZulu-Natal on Friday to assess the impact of the week-long unrest on the sector.
Trucks on the critical economic link, the N3 highway, have suffered carnage at the hands of looters. Many were set alight and looted, left burning overnight.
Last weekend, at Mooi River alone 23 trucks were set alight. In other parts of the province – similar losses were experienced, leaving owners gutted.
The unrest in KwaZulu-Natal has impacted every sector of the economy, among them, farming. With the N3 highway into the province only just re-opening, there remains concern around the safe passage of food, with tensions lingering.
Some farmers in the province have suffered fire to their land and precious crops.
CEO at the KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union, Sandy La Marque, has appealed for security while produce is being transported.
“The list of farmers whose farms have literally been disseminated because there is nothing left is severe their energies and their focus is being primarily on being Durban and Pietermaritzburg but as I say I can tell you there are about thirty, forty plus towns that have nothing the impact on food security in providing assistance to people is going to be of critical importance there is no infrastructure to service the people are now having to look for food items or essential items the concern that we have is the logistics the safety and security of logistics being able to move produce” says La Marque.
Executive Chair of the South African Farmers Development Association, Siyabonga Madlala, agrees with La Marque.
“We are calling on communities to desist from burning our trucks especially within the Agri sector because that is connecting the whole country to food security. So if you burn the trucks you are actually stopping the entire food supply chain. We are calling on security to intensify security so we can at least start crushing our cane agriculture is the back bone and the backdrop of any economy even if we are angry but if we destroy our agriculture it means we are destroying ourselves as a country. Our only chance of even reviving the economy is through agriculture. We do plea with our communities desist from burning agricultural infrastructure,” says Madlala.
Across the province, there’s been a rush as people queue for hours to buy essential items. These too, at the stores that survived looting and destruction.
Minister Didiza has cautioned people against panic buying.
“To make sure that there is no food insecurity in the country in that extent we are asking the South Africans not to actually panic buy so that they can fulfill properly an individual needs but at the same time causing scarcity unnecessarily we do have available food but obviously the logistics and the movement given some of the retail shops and other grocery shops have been vandalized that might actually cause a little bit of a challenge but the network in the food industry will be able to work various constituencies with the support of security cluster to make sure that food is available to communities” says Didiza.
Minister Didiza meets agricultural stakeholders to discuss food security issues:
The N3 Toll Concession says urgent maintenance and clean-up operations are under way as the road opens to commuters. It is appealing to users to remain vigilant and drive with caution.