Govt distributes over 400 tons of food relief

Monday, November 9, 2009

Cape Town - Government has distributed between 400 and 600 tons of food to more than 100 000 people in need of emergency food relief since May, says Minister of Public Works Geoff Doidge.

Briefing the media today on the progress made in the government's Social Protection and Community Development Cluster, Doidge said government had set up four food banks, exceeding its target of having two food banks up and running by March next year.

The four food banks - located in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Gauteng and Kwazulu-Natal, had distributed food through 900 agencies, he said.

Each food bank acts on behalf of social services agencies, by procuring food which is mainly donated by the food and grocery industries, government agencies, individuals and other organisations.

The government plans to have a food bank, complemented by a network of village food banks, set up in each of the country's nine provinces.

The food banks are being set up under Food Bank South Africa, a non-profit organisation formed by the South African Forum for Food Security - a partnership between government, civil society and the corporate sector.

South Africa and Sub-Sahara's first food bank was launched in Cape Town in March and already a number of countries around the world have set up their own networks of food banks.

"We are grateful to the civil society and corporate sector for their co-operation in setting up the SA Food Bank and the community food bank networks. This is the kind of partnership that our country needs during these hard economic times," said Doidge.

He said government had also introduced various other measures to assist poor households in the production of food and collection of water.

One was that households are being provided with agricultural starter packs which include seeds, farming implements and fertilisers.

Another is an intervention by the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, which together with the Food Agriculture Organisation, has so far helped finance eight micro farming projects through the UN's Tele-Food Fund.

The Director General of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Kgabi Mogajane, said the government was able to secure a grant of $23 000 (R170 000) to fund the programme.

The Department of Environmental Affairs has also initiated a rainwater harvesting programme aimed at rural areas plagued by water shortages.

"We have what we call veggie towers which have been erected particularly in drier areas where we know very well that they don't have adequate water," said Mogajane.

She said these towers had been erected in Muyexe, Limpopo and would also be set up in Riemvasmaak in the Northern Cape and Nkandla, Kwazulu-Natal.

Discussions are currently on the go to expand the food bank network in the Eastern Cape, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape and roll out networks in the Free State, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the North West.