The government should subsidize non-profit organizations that make a social impact in communities, according to Food Forward SA.
The organization’s executive director, Andy du Plessis, said he feels very comfortable with it, as it not only it was an effective route to socio-economic recovery, but it was a fair expectation as feeding the hungry was indeed part of the government’s responsibility.
Du Plessis was part of an expert panel at The Director’s event on Friday. Described as SA’s largest board meeting where the public and private sectors discuss and debate the shortest and most effective path to economic recovery, with discussions on economics, equality and food security with an emphasis on revitalizing the spirit by Ubuntu.
“Government must play a key role in empowering civil society to do more with large numbers of people currently affected by food insecurity. We need to make sure that civil society is empowered and not used to do government work,” he said.
Du Plessis said needy communities were growing and NPOs were struggling to keep up with the to keep up with food demand.
“What we think should happen is that civil society has to play an important role in providing social safety nets, in providing food security and in making food more accessible. One way to do this is for the government to subsidize nonprofit organizations that make a difference.”
Du Plessis said many NPOs are doing a lot and focusing on business development, small business development and focus on qualification. These were important areas as they encouraged communities to become self sufficient.
Founder and CEO of Tomorrow Matters Now (TOMA-Now), Dr. Jaishela Rajput said the heavy reliance on large retailers for access to food is problematic because they offer very little support to small farmers.
“One of the interesting outcomes of the pandemic has been the rise of small farmers. When a supermarket shelf went empty, they realized that more and more smallholders were gaining traction, supplying their local market with fresh produce. We have to use that. We should rely more on support from smallholders,” she said.
“This means that technical skills and access to finance are needed.”
Prof. Mark Swilling, co-director at the Center for Sustainability Transitions at Stellenbosch University, said 90% of South Africans buy their groceries from major retailers. He pointed out that in 1994 a quarter of South Africa’s food was sold through supermarkets and that this number had grown to well over two thirds.
“We are now the sixth highest populous nation in the world in terms of population percentage who buys their groceries from large retailers.”
Prof. Imraan Valodia, Wits University’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Climate, Sustainability and Inequality, said the problem with food security is the challenge of inequality.
“Food has to be something that makes us healthy, not sick. But in this unequal system, food makes you sick. Partly because they overeat or because they don’t consume enough,” he said.
In improving the economy to improve livelihoods, experts agreed that government needs to play a bigger role.
p>< p>John Dludlu, CEO of the Small Business Institute, said the environment for small businesses is becoming tighter. He mentioned the current flooding in the eThekwini community in Durban.
In this case, he said the government is not playing its role in helping businesses recover.
” This The area has emerged from two crises – the riots in July last year and the recent floods. Now they have to deal with water loss, leaving some areas without water for up to five hours a day,” he said.
Jan Bouwer, Head of Digital Platform at BCX, agreed, explaining that government needs to turn more towards technology.
“We are 18 months behind in the digital economy and there is a need to streamline government services.”
New ways to combat Inequalities are needed to focus on how the public and private sectors can work together to elevate SA above the classification of a fragile emerging economy.
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