MEC MASE MANOPOLE SPEECH AT THE OCCASION OF THE WORLD FOOD DAY CELEBRATION AT THE VAALHARTS RESEACH STATION

16 October 2020 The Programme Director Acting Heads of Department  Senior Managers  Farmers and the Associations of Farmers represented here today Ladies and Gentlemen Good afternoon   Today is an important day in our calendar- a day in which we join the globe in celebrating the World Food Day under the theme; “Grow, nourish, sustain. Together, our actions are our future.” The World Food Day is being commemorated annually to highlight efforts by government in eradicating hunger and malnutrition through the Integrated Food Security and Nutrition Programme (IFSNP).  Since the inception of IFSNP in 2004, various projects throughout the province have been unveiled in support of food insecure communities.  The deliverables include the distribution of starter packs, seedlings and food parcels at NGOs, schools and households.     Ladies and Gentlemen, this year’s theme gives us hope that despite the challenges we are faced with, including the challenges of the Covid-19 epidemic, veld fires and persistent drought-necessitates that we need to stand together and work towards improving our lives and that of the coming generation through sustainable food security. Today as we celebrate the World Food Day, we should be mindful that drought is persisting in most part of our Province.   The continuous absence of rain which was intensified by higher than average temperatures, has led to the magnitude of this drought affecting almost the entire Province However, we are grateful that the John Taolo Gaetsewe and Francis Baard districts received significant rainfall in the past few months.   The rain events that occurred in Pixley ka Seme, ZF Mgcawu and Namakwa were uneven and most parts have not received rain.   In this regions, the drought has escalated to a current situation were more than 18 000 farm portions covering more than 25 million hectares are severely affected.  As the Provincial Government, we have intervened by distributing more than 700 tons of Lucerne from our fodder banks to farmers in need of fodder due to the drought. Through the intervention of our National Government, we managed to secure an amount of R36 million which is channelled toward drought relief. We have opened for applications from Farmers in Namakwa, Pixley ka Seme and ZF Mgcawu regions to apply for the relief. The closing date was yesterday on the 15th of October.  We are however fortunate, that drought has not impacted on the flows of the main rivers which are feeding the irrigation areas of the Northern Cape.   As a result, planting of winter crops such as wheat and barley, continued as normal for this time of the year.  Significant expansion in planting of pecan nuts were experienced and a definite swing from wine grapes to dry grapes have been noticed due to favourable raisin prices.   Ladies and Gentlemen, during the 2019/20 cropping seasons, the Northern Cape Province produced approximately 670 000 tons of maize and 240 000 tons of wheat, which contributes 6% and 16% respectively to the national grain production.   The Province produces approximately 25% of the national cotton crop with a total of 60 775 lint bales.     The Veldfire Ladies and Gentlemen, velfires continue to destroy and kill our crops and livestock.  I call on public road users and our general public to be vigilant, especially cigarette smokers.  A burning cigarette butt, which is thrown out of the window from a moving a vehicle, can cause a farmer millions of rand in expenses. It can cause a country a fortune when it comes to food security.    Backyard gardens Ladies and Gentlemen, on a flip-side, Covid-19 has given us an opportunity to do things differently. The lockdown presented us with the opportunity to stay at home and keep ourselves busy by planting vegetables on our backyard gardens. There is no doubt that the time to establish back yard gardens in each and every household is now. Precisely because the biggest challenges facing our nation today is the constant plight of hunger and the shortage of food.  Statistics shows that over 2 million South Africans survive on only one meal a day.  Over 2,5 million children in our country are living below the food poverty line.  Ladies and Gentlemen, about 2% of households grow the majority of their own food, and the majority of small-scale producers in rural areas are unable to feed their families. Food inadequacy and hunger is still a challenge in our Province. Even when South Africa is food secured at national level, the Northern Cape province has the lowest proportions of households that had adequate food access and therefore can be seen as the least food secure, at 66,5%. This is precisely because poverty-stricken households lack money to buy food and are unable to produce their own food.  These households are constrained by the inability to secure employment or to generate income.  Poor households are also typically characterised by few income-earners and many dependents, and are particularly vulnerable to economic shocks. Food insecurity occurs when people’s access to food is minimally adequate and they have trouble meeting their basic needs, while severe inadequate access to food occurs when there is a critical lack of access to food. Conclusion  Ladies and Gentlemen, the involvement of households in agricultural activities for subsistence farming can play an important role in reducing the vulnerability to hunger of rural and urban food-insecure households.  We continue to restore our motto of ‘One household, One food garden.’ Let enjoy this day knowing that more still need to be done to better the lives of our people.   I thank you.