government has announced that a draft framework for a national food control agency has been approved by Cabinet and will now go out for consultation. The agency would investigate and report to government on food prices and measures to help the poor. President Thabo Mbeki said that some time ago that a pricing committee was established to look into rising food prices.
This resulted in a major food company simplifying its packaging for maize meal and reducing the cost thereof to consumers. Mbeki also said that food prices are influenced by global events and that a more permanent structure than a committee is needed to address these issues, as it deals with structural challenges which are affecting the whole world.
Therefore, the establishment of an agency to deal with this situation is justified. “As with all ANC committees or agencies, this one will also talk a lot and do nothing,” said Dr Kraai van Niekerk the DA spokesperson on agriculture. “And why duplicate something that already exists?” he asked, referring to the National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC) that monitors and reports on a quarterly basis on urban and rural food prices, as well as input costs that affect food production. The high food prices currently being experienced are a complex international phenomenon, and the core factor is the effectiveness of commercial agriculture.
Dr Van Niekerk said the ANC lacks the necessary expertise to address agricultural issues. Neels Ferreira, chairperson of Grain SA said, “I’m baffled, as this will duplicate existing work done by the NAMC. If government don’t approve of the current reporting, they should rather address that instead of duplicating existing state bodies.” – Wouter Kriel