Food price inflation increases hurt the poor – Annette Steyn

DA says core reason for high food inflation remains the drought but govt has yet to declare it a national disaster

Food price inflation increases hurt the poor – declare the drought a national disaster! 

21 September 2016

Today’s Statistics SA (Stats SA) CPI figures reveal that prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages went up by 11.6% year-on-year (Aug ‘15 – Aug ’16). 

In particular, staple foods such as bread and vegetables recorded the highest inflation, with bread and cereals increasing by 16%; fruit by 20% and vegetables by 15.4%. 

This means that it is getting more expensive to buy the food that people need to survive. 

With 8.9 million unemployed South Africans, and inadequate growth in social grants, the poorest South Africans will be the hardest hit. 

The core reason for this high food inflation remains the drought, which continues to impact on agricultural output. The drought is making it more expensive to operate, and that cost is being passed onto the consumer. 

This could have been avoided if the government took urgent action and declared the drought a national disaster earlier this year, freeing up funding that would have resulted in better supply, and lower prices. 

The ANC instead opted to vote against the DA’s budget proposals to allocate funding to the drought, and both the Minister of Cooperative Governance and the President have sat on their hands. 

Sadly, the drought is far from over and its impact will continue to be felt by the poorest of South Africans. The new planting season this spring could see our agricultural industry pushed further into crisis, as many of our farmers now face bankruptcy and do not have any additional funds to carry further decline in production. 

The time to act is now. The DA again urges the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Des van Rooyen, to declare a drought a national disaster, and to implement the DA’s motion to this effect, which was passed by the National Assembly on 26 May 2016. 

We cannot allow for our food security to be placed at risk for any longer. The DA will continue to fight for drought relief so that the agricultural sector is able to survive, and food costs decrease. This is a key way to fight poverty and hunger in South Africa today.  

Issued by Annette Steyn, DA Shadow Minister of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries, 21 September 2016