South Africa is yet to implement an integrated national food policy to address the state of food insecurity and malnutrition in the country.
A report based on a joint workshop on food safety and security held in parliament in February‚ said there was an urgent need for various government departments to work together in order to tackle food security.
One of the objectives of the workshop was to bring together different parliament committees to determine‚ among other issues‚ the status and socio-economic aspects of food security in the country and the drivers of food insecurity.
The report‚ tabled in parliament earlier this month‚ said South Africa focused far more on food production than nutrition or consumption of nutritious foods.
According to the report‚ despite South Africa being food secure on a national level‚ an estimated 13.8 million people were reported to be food insecure in the country in 2014.
Professor Sheryl Hendricks of the University of Pretoria‚ who had made inputs in the workshop‚ said there were over 60 different programmes dealing with food insecurity and malnutrition‚ but with no coordinating structure.
Hendricks said the national drivers of food insecurity were: transportation costs‚ poor economic growth as well as poor coordination and duplication of programmes.
She called for the creation of a structure that would provide leadership to reduce duplication and waste of resources.
Lise Korsten‚ a professor in the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of Pretoria‚ said that universities are struggling to get students to do post-graduate studies on food safety.
“The industry is not providing bursaries for the students to study biotechnology to ensure that pesticides and other chemicals are developed and tested locally‚” the report read.
The committees resolved that the new proposed integrated approach was essential to address food security challenges in the country.
“The committees noted that coordination of activities from national‚ provincial and local government are still a very critical challenge that impacts on efficiency with which available resources are used to address food security and nutrition‚” the report read.