South Africa has been reported to be amongst countries that have a worrying shortage of food during Covid-19.
The World Bank Group found that in countries like South Africa where socio-economic issues and unemployment were already prevalent and people struggled to buy food, the crises for its citizens to obtain basic food is more acute
The Bank worked with governments and international partners to closely monitor domestic food and agricultural supply chains, tracking how the loss of employment and income impacted peoples ability to buy food, in order to ensure that food systems continue to function, despite Covid-19 challenges.
According to the South African statistics, annual headline inflation jumped to 4,4% in April from 3,2% in March, mainly driven by rising transport and food prices. This is the highest reading since before the lockdown, which was 4,6% in February 2020.
Meat, dairy and oil prices drove up food inflation Food and non-alcoholic beverages increased by 0,9% between March and April. This took the annual rate to 6,3%, the highest it has been since 6,8% in July 2017 (45 months ago). At that time, parts of South Africa were experiencing severe drought.
“Responding to the Emerging Food Security Crisis,” a paper released in December 2020, summarizes the World Bank’s response in the poorest countries: IDA has provided $5.3 billion in new commitments between April and September 2020 for food security. This has been through a combination of short-term COVID-19 responses and investments to address the longer-term drivers of food insecurity.
Food is a Human right recognised under national and international law, which protects the right of human beings to access food and feed themselves.
Job loss during covid-19 and food prices going up has affected people badly and acted as a violation of their right to access food and feed themselves, section 27 (1)(b) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa state that everyone has the right to have access to sufficient food and water.
In an attempt to meet people’s needs halfway the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza declared Food security an essential service during Coronavirus COVID-19.
According to the Minister, this was to ensure that critical agricultural production activities such as harvesting continue uninterrupted
The money was distributed to all provinces around South Africa to help assist farmers to continue to produce food. The Western Cape Department of Agriculture (WCDoA) distributed 10 million rands in fodder support 1727 farmers located in extreme or critically extreme drought areas in the Western Cape.
The areas that benefited from the funds include the Central and Little Karoo, parts of the Cape Winelands and the northern parts of Matzikamma.
The distribution of fodder support vouchers to qualifying farmers has occurred with full regard for the Covid-19 lockdown regulations.
By Siphokazi Mnyobe