Food plan to ease hunger in drought-stricken prov­inces

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - NONI MOKATI

A FOOD Se­cu­rity and Nu­tri­tion Ind­aba be­ing held in Benoni is ex­pected to out­line steps the gov­ern­ment will take this year to alle­vi­ate poverty in the coun­try.

The Ind­aba comes a few months af­ter eight prov­inces were de­clared dis­as­ter ar­eas be­cause of the on­go­ing drought.

While re­cent rains have pro­vided farm­ers in hard-hit ar­eas such as the north­ern Free-State with respite from the dry spell, the two-day fo­rum, hosted by the Agri­cul­ture, Forestry and Fish­eries Min­istry, along­side the UN Food and Agri­cul­ture Or­gan­i­sa­tion, aims to look into how South Africans can ac­cess nu­tri­tious and af­ford­able food.

Ac­cord­ing to the Gen­eral House­hold Sur­vey re­leased by Statis­tics South Africa, the num­ber of peo­ple who have lit­tle or no ac­cess to food went up from 12.6 mil­lion in 2011 to 14.3 mil­lion in 2015.

Unicef has said mal­nu­tri­tion con­trib­uted to nearly half the deaths of chil­dren un­der five in Africa and Asia, adding that poor nu­tri­tion in the first 1 000 days of a child’s life leads to stunted growth, af­fects chil­dren’s cog­ni­tive abil­ity and re­duces school per­for­mance.

Del­e­gates have so far dis­cussed the pur­pose of the food plan, what it means, as well as the im­pact nu­tri­tious food will have on poverty-stricken com­mu­ni­ties.

The food plan was pre­sented be­fore Par­lia­ment in Novem­ber and is yet to be leg­is­lated into law.

The del­e­gates also spoke about the chal­lenges fac­ing the coun­try such as the lack of buy­ing power by low-in­come house­holds, and weak dis­as­ter-man­age­ment and farm­er­sup­port net­works, both of which crum­bled un­der pres­sure last year.

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