Agriculture Committee failing in oversight to protect food security

Issued by Noko Masipa MP – DA Shadow Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development
12 Feb 2023 in News

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Noko Masipa MP

The portfolio committee chairperson on Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) has to date not responded to the request from the Democratic Alliance to invite both Minister Thoko Didiza and Eskom senior management to appear before the portfolio committee and brief members about their plans to support farmers and ensure that food security is not affected by the ongoing electricity blackouts. In fact, this committee has not met at all to discuss these critical matters, and no meeting has been scheduled.

Recently, farmers have been faced with a crisis that poses a direct threat to food security and agriculture sustainability in this country. Many farmers in the irrigation belt of the Northern Cape and parts of the Western Cape could not irrigate their farms due to power cuts. Small holder and commercial farmers have been watching their crops die due to excessive heat. Milk and chicken farms have also been worst hit by ANC engineered electricity outage. All these challenges have seen a rise in food prices, which many South Africans aren’t able to afford.

Despite farmers’ pleas to Minister Thoko Didiza and Eskom senior management to consider agriculture as an essential service and provide modified power cuts scheduling, to date there is no plan on the table to save farmers and food security in this country.

Furthermore, it is almost a month since parliament came from recess however, the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development has not sat once to discuss the power shortage matters that have catastrophic implications to food security. No plans have been forthcoming from the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development. The ANC led portfolio committee is failing farmers and South African on its oversight duties. Job losses in the agricultural sector are on the rise, yet the proposed committee does not include discussion on Eskom power outages and related matters.

The DA insists that the Portfolio Committee engage both Eskom and Minister Thoko Didiza about specific plans for the agriculture sector. South African farmers need answers on how they must feed the nation going forward.