Food programme helps feed the hungry

Monday, November 9, 2009

Cape Town - An estimated 8 234 households have benefited from the government's Food Production Programme.

The programme was introduced to enhance household and community food production primarily for consumption and to generate income from the sale of surplus food.

The households are provided with agricultural starter packs such as implements, vegetable seedlings and fertilizers.

Public Works Minister Geoff Doidge said on Monday that through partnership with civil society and the corporate sector, government had successfully established the South African Forum for Food Security which culminated in the launch of Food Bank South Africa.

He was speaking at the Social Protection and Community Development Cluster Programme of Action (PoA) media briefing in Cape Town. This is the first report since the inception of the cluster under the new administration. This briefing provides an update on the implementation of the priorities outlined in the PoA.

He said to date four food banks had been established in four provinces namely, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape and Eastern Cape.

The food banks have distributed between 400 and 600 tons of food via 900 agencies to more than 100 000 people who are desperately in need of emergency food relief. The national target of establishing two food banks by March 2010 has been achieved earlier.

"While in other countries the focus is on the acquisition and distribution of surplus food, we have incorporated the element of food production and trade in this approach. This initiative is consistent with our intention to stimulate the rural economy to provide livelihoods for people in rural areas," Doidge said.

The minister said the Ministry of Rural Development and Land Reform in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) were busy implementing the Tele-Food Fund to finance grass root micro projects.

To date, the fund has assisted eight projects which have been approved by FAO for implementation in South Africa. Also in support of the programme activities, the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs has initiated a Rainwater Harvesting Programme aimed at ensuring that clean water for consumption and household food production is made available through low cost water harvesting techniques.

"This initiative is consistent with government's plan to stimulate the rural economy to provide livelihoods for people in rural areas," Doidge said. The intention is to ensure that there is at least one food bank in each province.