Minister: Sharp increase in food prices inevitable

Senzeni Zokwana will meet with major retailers to discuss looming food price increases.

Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Agriculture Minister Senzeni Zokwana says a sharp increase in food prices is inevitable.

But he has appealed to retailers not to take advantage of the situation.

Speaking at a post-State of the Nation briefing in Parliament earlier today, Zokwana said an estimated R16 billion has been lost following the national drought.

He's described the drought as the worst in 23 years.

Zokwana says he is to meet with at least two major retailers this week to discuss looming food price increases.

"Tomorrow, myself and my experts will be meeting with Tiger Brands and later this week, Pioneer Foods."

Zokwana says he's also concerned at the roaring price of chicken.

"In terms of chicken, we were not supposed to be so exposed given that there will be these tons from America."

Last week the South African Poultry Association announced that the price of a two kilogram bag of quick-frozen chicken, which has already exceeded the R50 mark, may increase by a further R7 in coming months.

Zokwana says government is considering approaching the National Treasury to make up for the losses.


Zokwana also says government is not ready to declare the drought a national disaster.

Six provinces have been affected by the low-pressure system, which has been described as the worst in over years.

Zokwana says there's a risk of disinvestment in agriculture from the banking sector if a national disaster is declared.

"We have approached the IDC which has promised to put aside half a billion rand to assist farmers. But another view was put forward that maybe we need to approach the Treasury where they can stand surety in some of the indebtedness of farmers."


Last week, Agri SA said five percent of South Africa's livestock breeding herds had died during the worst drought in a century and red meat prices were expected to rise towards the end of this year.

Agri SA warned that food production had reached crisis levels and as winter approached, serious food shortages were expected.

There are also concerns about the increase in the number of farms being sold due to the dry weather.

WATCH: SA economy suffers as drought continues