Recent fuel hikes could worsen food insecurity in SA

REPORTER: MATSHEBA MALATJI


DATE 06 July 2022

Non-profit organization “Food and Trees for Africa” says the fuel price hauls could worsen food insecurity in South Africa. Wednesday’s fuel price hike saw a R2.37 per litre increase in the price of petrol, diesel heightened by R2.30 per litre – and the price of illuminating paraffin increased by R1.66 per litre. According to Stats SA, 23.6% of South Africans encountered moderate to serious food insecurity in 2020, while 14.9% encountered serious food insecurity.

Head of Programmes at Food and Trees for Africa, Robyn Hills says marketable farmers will be the greatest affected due to logistics and operational costs. “I think when we talk about food insecurity, we talk about access to food and shelter. We have an erratic society in SA like other societies in the world. It means that some members of the population don’t have money to buy food. When we talk about unequal food systems, we talking about people’s capacity to grow their own food.”

“One of the things we need to unpack is who is producing food. How are we assuring that we are going to be able to continue to be able to introduce health food in the next 10, 20, 30 years in light of the societal and climate related challenges?” adds Hills.

Over 36 collective crop farmers at Thabine irrigation scheme, outside Tzaneen in Limpopo, say they fear losing their income due to the increase in fuel prices. As the country continues to experience fuel increases, the emerging farmers are worried that they might not be able to irrigate their crops. The scheme produces cabbage, green beans, spinach and peri peri, that is sold to surrounding communities. Brian Mushwana and Daniel Gana say they will produce less crops if the fuel price increases again. “We are using generators to pump water from the river. So because now the fuel price is now increasing, we are going to have a challenge. Our quantity will have to go down because we wont afford to plant on a big scale. We are struggling here because of the increase of petrol. It’s a big difficulty. We are using petrol when watering our plants. We won’t be able to go further with this farming,” they explain.

Earlier, the Automobile Association of South Africa spokesperson, Layton Beard said government needs to urgently review fuel prices in the country. Increased fuel prices have been pushed up by a weaker rand/dollar exchange rate, rising Brent Crude Oil prices on the back of the war between Russia and Ukraine, and rising demand in China, among other factors. The fuel price increase comes as the state’s 75 cent reduction in the fuel levy – as relief for endeavoring consumers – expires on 3 August 2022.

Department of Energy’s Robert Maake says the government has done what it can in terms of the relief on the fuel levy: