The FairPlay movement has proposed a five-point plan to help improve food security in South Africa as winter approaches.
The proposal was a response to yet another rise in South Africa’s unemployment statistics – 35.3% at the official narrow figure and 46.2% at the expanded total, including discouraged work seekers. This means that nearly half of the country’s working-age population is jobless.
FairPlay founder Francois Baird said that, with millions out of work, this new record unemployment level was likely to be followed by record hunger. This would be a dreadful achievement in a country with a booming agriculture sector.
Instead of “another unsuccessful jobs summit”, he urged government to act urgently to reduce poverty and hunger as joblessness increases.
FairPlay suggests a five-point action plan:
1. VAT-free chicken. Remove the 15% value added tax (VAT) from the chicken portions consumed most by lower-income households. This can be done immediately and would increase the affordability of South Africa’s most popular source of meat protein.
2. Provide assistance to small farmers in deep rural areas, particularly small poultry farmers who create employment and sell food to local communities.
3. Provide early childhood and pregnant mother feeding schemes to prevent child stunting, which is caused by malnutrition and affects more than a quarter of children under the age of five.
4. Launch a country-wide drive to plant fruit and vegetables on vacant land in townships and cities. Pretoria’s “cabbage bandit”, Djo BaNkuna, showed how it can be done.
5. Support the country’s faith communities and NGOs involved in feeding schemes, to drive a national feeding outreach to stave off record hunger across the country this winter.
Baird said hunger levels will be exacerbated by rising unemployment and the food price inflation resulting from Ukraine war.
“The time to act is now,” he concluded.