How will SA feed a population of 85m? - TAU SA

Agricultural union says food supply essential to political stability

Land Planning Summit proposed for next century's food security

Within a few decades agricultural land for food production will be one of the most valuable minerals in the world. The world population is currently increasing by a million every four days.

Estimates indicate that the South African population by 2050 will be approximately 85 million people. This means that South Africa alone has to make provision to feed an additional 35 million people over the next 38 years. This represents an annual  population growth of more than 920 000 people.

This population will not only be claiming their right to be provided with food for the sake of survival, but they will also demand to be supplied with water, housing and jobs.

This reality will require enormous challenges. Existing housing options will nearly have to double. The trend in South Africa is ground low-cost housing or informal settlements that extend over large areas. Additional land for housing will be required and will be most likely be taken from current productive agricultural land. This means less agricultural land will be available while more food needs to be produced. As it is, South Africa is a marginal agricultural land with unpredictable climate, and it may not be possible to ensure higher production from existing agricultural resources.

Therefore, TAU SA is of the opinion that land must be regarded within the economic environment, rather than to look at it from an emotional political point of view.  Especially Africa 's history has shown that a country tends to fall into instability, even revolution, when food supply comes under pressure. It is a reality that South Africa already could face food shortages within the next four decades.

TAU SA repeats its demand for a land audit and the completion thereof within the next 18 months.  In this regard TAU SA urges government to make funds available for such an audit. The estimated R40 million which is required is a drop in the ocean compared to the billions of rands' loan which has been made available to the International Monetary Fund. This will be a most significant investment in the country and its inhabitants' future.

This audit will provide government with a more accurate indication of land reform requirements in the country, and will be more reliable than the guess work being flaunted currently. It will moreover be able to accurately determine which land belongs to the State, and where and how it is utilized (if at all).

Thereafter TAU SA proposes a land planning conference to be held. During that summit planning for the next 50 - 100 years needs to be done in terms of housing-, infrastructure- and food production requirements with regard to the estimated population growth are concerned. All role players at such a summit will have to agree on the minimum agricultural land which the country will require for sustainable food production for the next century.Only then can urbanization and infrastructure planning be constructed around such needs.

Ultimately, the point has to be reached that only fit and proper people will be involved in food production on a similar expertise basis similar to other professions such as the medical or legal fraternities, to which only qualified persons will have access. In that regard the land will be a tool in the hands of professional producers of food.

TAU SA wishes to put it on record that primary agriculture is one of the cornerstones of a healthy economy. Agriculture and land as it's most important resource, should therefore be clinically evaluated from an economic perspective. Land reform will take its natural course as more qualified black food producers emerge and structures such as the Land Bank are prepared to help them acquire land. Any unnatural process, such as forced land reform, will contribute to create a crisis in food supply with the result that people who now demand ownership of land, then probably not even will get any food.  For the sake of long term food production and security, a land audit and a land utility conference should be considered as a priority.

Statement issued by Mr Bennie van Zyl, General Manager TAU SA, July 3 2012

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