Food se­cu­rity a ma­jor con­cern for ru­ral FS

The New Age (Free State) - - FREE STATE NEWS - TNA RE­PORTER news@the­

FOOD se­cu­rity is a ma­jor con­cern if re­cent poverty sta­tis­tics are any­thing to go by.

Ac­cord­ing to Sta­tis­tics SA, the pro­por­tion of the pop­u­la­tion liv­ing in poverty de­clined from 66.6% (31.6 mil­lion per­sons) in 2006 to 53.2% or 27.3 mil­lion in 2011, but in­creased to 55.5% or 30.4 mil­lion in 2015.

The num­ber of per­sons liv­ing in ex­treme poverty, such as per­sons liv­ing be­low the 2015 Food Poverty Line of R441 per per­son per month, in South Africa in­creased by 2.8 mil­lion, from 11 mil­lion in 2011 to 13.8 mil­lion in 2015.

The agri­cul­ture depart­ment re­ported last year that 600000 res­i­dents in the prov­ince strug­gle to feed them­selves and their fam­i­lies.

Agri­cul­ture, Forestry and Fish­eries Min­is­ter Sen­zeni Zok­wana will be in QwaQwa on Mon­day to ad­dress ques­tions about food se­cu­rity in the prov­ince and coun­try.

Zik­wana will com­mem­o­rate World Food Day.

He will be joined by MEC for agri­cul­ture and ru­ral de­vel­op­ment Oupa Khoa­bane, UN Food and Agri­cul­ture Or­gan­i­sa­tion coun­try rep­re­sen­ta­tive Dr Lewis Hove and Ma­luti-a-Pho­fung lo­cal mu­nic­i­pal­ity mayor Vusi Tsha­bal­ala.

This event is es­pe­cially im­por­tant as re­cent Stats SA find­ings point to growth in poverty in South Africa.

Keep­ing with the theme of mi­gra­tion, fur­ther find­ings showed that the Western Cape and Gauteng have shown the low­est lev­els of poverty over 15 years due to hav­ing wealth­ier pop­u­la­tions and more job op­por­tu­ni­ties.

More ru­ral prov­inces such as the East­ern Cape and Lim­popo have re­mained the poor­est since 2001.

“Re­gard­less of the dif­fer­ence ob­served in poverty lev­els between money met­rica and mul­ti­di­men­sional mea­sures, there is reg­u­lar­ity in the rank­ing. This means that ir­re­spec­tive of the mea­sure used, the poor­est prov­inces are con­sis­tent,” Stats SA said.

This would mean the mi­gra­tion of peo­ple from th­ese prov­inces to more ur­ban cen­tres where prospects of wealth and get­ting a meal are greater.

The Free State, ac­cord­ing to Stats SA, has 64% of its chil­dren on grants among the three high­est per­cent­ages in the land, in­di­cat­ing the need for ag­gres­sive at­ten­tion fo­cused on de­vel­op­ing prov­inces with large ru­ral set­tle­ments.

Ru­ral de­vel­op­ment re­mains a crit­i­cal tool to re­duc­ing poverty in the coun­try.

Stats SA noted that ru­ral ar­eas seemed to have been hit more by the 2007-08 fi­nan­cial cri­sis than ur­ban ar­eas.

Ad­di­tion­ally mi­gra­tion can have a re­versed role where ur­ban peo­ple move from an ur­ban area back to a ru­ral set­ting, fur­ther com­pound­ing the poverty prob­lem.

“This might be in­flu­enced by peo­ple who had lost their jobs in ur­ban ar­eas dur­ing the cri­sis, re­sult­ing in them hav­ing to re­turn to their ru­ral ar­eas of ori­gin and thus push­ing up poverty lev­els in those ar­eas.

“An­other pos­si­ble rea­son for the in­crease could be that re­mit­tances and other fi­nan­cial trans­fers from those in ur­ban ar­eas de­creased, again a byprod­uct of the fi­nan­cial cri­sis, putting ad­di­tional pres­sure on in­di­vid­u­als in ru­ral ar­eas that de­pend on those re­sources to sur­vive,” Stats SA said.

FOOD SE­CU­RITY: Ru­ral de­vel­op­ment re­mains a crit­i­cal tool.

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