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Consumers warned to brace for higher food prices

The minister of agriculture is calling on farmers to be resilient amidst the current water crisis.

Drought. Picture: AFP
drought,SA drought,Water crisis in SA,food prices,Agriculture
Local Business

JOHANNESBURG - While the agriculture ministry calls for resilience from farmers battling the water crisis, it's warning consumers to brace for an increase in food prices.

Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Senzeni Zokwana met with Agri SA and other industry players today for an update on the worst drought in South Africa in 23 years.

He says between five and six million tons of maize may need to be imported this year, but added that the country’s ports of entry can handle this amount.

CEO of the National Agricultural Marketing Council Tshililo Ramabulana says importing scarce commodities could lead to a food price hike.

“If we are forced to imports six million tons of maize, you will probably see a 25 percent increase in food prices when you look at a typical basket that a normal household in South Africa consumes.”

Chairman of the Maize Steering Committee Rod Gravelet-Blondin says there are other commodities needed, such as wheat, which will also lead to an increase in prices.

The department of agriculture has also moved to clarify that although dry conditions have been reported across the country, only five provinces have been declared disaster areas.

Zokwana says the water shortages have not reached the level of a national crisis just yet.

He says a disaster management committee has been established and analysis is still being done in the Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and Western Cape.

“The act determines the fact that it is the local government that will apply for a province to be declared a disaster area. KwaZulu-Natal, North West, Mpumalanga, Free State and Limpopo have been declared disaster areas. The other three provinces are still being assessed because it is not the whole province that is affected.”

(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)

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