Warning over the dire impact of food price inflation on SA’s most vulnerable

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Warning over the dire impact of food price inflation on SA’s most vulnerable

Published on: March 22nd, 2023

SA is facing unprecedented food security risks following food price inflation in the first two months of 2023, which according to the non-profit Afrika Tikkun Foundation (ATF), will increase the struggle to feed millions of vulnerable people

The ATF, which provides education, health, and social services to underprivileged communities, says those working to alleviate hunger and malnutrition, are expected to be hard hit by growing economic pressures.

“This follows SA food price inflation reaching a 14-year high, further burdening those who can still afford to buy food and possibly increasing the number of people who rely on feeding schemes to access a nutritious meal,” it said.

The ATF warned that those who are already impoverished, relying on cheaper staple foods and charities to survive cannot withstand a further onslaught on food security without decisive action to prevent this.

“We cannot stand by and watch staple foods that the poor rely on for nutrition to become unaffordable. These must be protected from becoming unattainable, even to charities who feed the poor,” said ATF chief operating officer Sipho Mamize

The organisation called for broad and urgent action to stabilise food price inflation to prevent increasing malnutrition, and protect millions from slipping into poverty.

StatsSA recently announced that the annual food and non-alcoholic beverage inflation increased to 13.4% from 12.4% in December, the highest rate since April 2009.

“Much of this has been attributed to the worsening state of South Africa’s power supply. State utility Eskom is facing production challenges that have crippled the country’s power supply,” said the organisation.

It said the year had been devastating for vulnerable communities nationwide with power cuts as long as 12-hours per day in some areas.

“ATF has seen small businesses being ravaged and large businesses being forced to increase their prices as food supplies tanked.”

The South African Reserve Bank predicts that food-price inflation will rise to a rate of 7.3%, up from its earlier prediction of 6.2%.

“Food is becoming far too expensive for humane economic conditions to prevail. Government and the private sector must urgently develop an action plan to fast-track interventions and stall this trajectory.

“If this trend continues it may lead to food becoming unaffordable to millions more South Africans who are already living on or below the breadline,” said Mamize.

He said the load shedding domino effect on food supply was hitting poor people the hardest. Cheap sources of protein such as eggs and chicken are getting more expensive for the average consumer, leaving those who cannot afford the higher prices to look for the scant alternatives available to them or face hunger and malnutrition.

“We urge the government to take a multipronged approach to address this immediate crisis, because it threatens the lives and livelihoods of people in the poorest communities. The same urgency used to combat the threat of Covid 19 must be undertaken to fight starvation in our beautiful South Africa.

“Where there is a unified will to prevent a humanitarian crisis like widespread hunger, surely a way will be made so as to shield the poor from these volatile price increases,” said Mamize.