Food shortages loom in SA

SA is facing the prospect of looming food shortages in the next 20 years according to Deloitte.

File: Maize. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa is facing the prospect of looming food shortages in the next 20 years according to Deloitte.

Senior Associate at Deloitte, Omri van Zyl, told the Money Show this will happen if South Africa doesn't groom and support farmers.

"If we had the food shortages, the Gross Domestic Product contribution to agriculture would be in jeopardy, price inflation in food would go up and we would have to import a lot of the things we produce at home."

Data from farming organisation, AgriSA, shows the average age of a South African farmer is 62, considerably higher than the EU median age of 55 and also older than the US (58) and Australia (53).

"The profile of the average local farmer is 62 and globally it's around 54 so we're above the average, however, this factor is likely to put considerable pressure on the nation's status as a net food producer."

Van Zyl says government needs to actively breed and support farmers.

"Breeding of farmers needs to start at tertiary level and perhaps we could look at a subsidy system as well."

The senior associate says a lot of it is about security tenure.

"Security of tenure is important for two reasons, one so that the banks may collateralise land and the other is more of a psychological thing."

Agriculture isn't an easy business to manage so as we go through this process it will be a process of consultation and finding out what the balance between commercially sustainable industry and job creation."

Van Zyl warns if South Africa doesn't have younger farmers who want to do the work, the country will face serious problems in the future.