Categories: South Africa

Farmers throw away ‘good’ food – Food Bank

Instead of farmers throwing away or destroying unmarketable produce, the food should be donated to the poor, said Mohamed Kajee, Food Bank South Africa managing director, at a meeting held with minister of agriculture Tina Joemat-Pettersson and TAU SA.

Kajee said farmers often throw away produce which fails to go to the market, while millions of South Africans starve. He said 20% of SA households have inadequate access to food, while 2,8 million households, comprising 11 million people, are regarded as being ‘food insecure’. “A further 14 million South Africans are vulnerable to food insecurity,” said Kajee.

Donate
“I would like to call on our farmers and other stakeholders to donate good food to people to eat instead of destroying it as is common practice on some farms,” said Joemat-Pettersson. “It is reported that South Africa wastes 9 million tons of food annually, due to inefficient markets and weak distribution mechanisms,” she said. According to Joemat-Pettersson, organisations with skills in agri-logistics are being called on to assist in providing households that are struggling to afford food with fresh vegetables and other foodstuffs. TAU SA president Louis Meintjies said the union supports the idea, but added that the percentage of ‘food wastage’ on farms is very low.

New markets
He also said the quality of the ‘wasted food’ is also worth considering – as there might be a very good reason why it hasn’t been sold. “If the produce is waste, then it may not be good for human consumption.” Meintjies suggested the Food Bank be linked to government’s Zero Hunger programme. In addition, instead of having waste produce donated to the Food Bank, government should set up different markets in different places which farmers can supply.

They can then produce for specific markets. For example, instead of planting only a R1.00 seedling tomato cultivar for a more ‘sophisticated market’, a farmer could also plant, say, a 25c cultivar to supply these markets, said Meintjies. “Currently farmers are planting what the market demands,” he said. “If a market is set up in Mamelodi, for instance, there will be two markets to service.”

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