“The consequences of so many people going to bed without a proper meal are manifold”, said TAU SA General Manager Bennie van Zyl, keynote speaker at a recent international conference on agriculture in Cape Town sponsored by Agri-Food-Aqua of London, England.

The question of food on the table has become urgent and contentious – 815 million people regularly go to bed hungry, while millions more are under-nourished and stunted, victims of the circle of poverty and malnutrition from which they are unable to escape.
A report from the United Nations food agencies - “The State of Food Security and Food Nutrition in the World 2017” – released by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Food Program (WFP) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development – says that despite overall improvements in food security, some areas of the world are lagging in providing adequate nutrition for healthy development. Some pertinent facts about this phenomenon are:

• The vast majority of the world’s hungry people live in developing countries where 12,9 percent of the populations are under-nourished.
• Asia is the continent with the most hungry people – two thirds of the total.
• Sub-Saharan Africa is the region where the highest prevalence (percentage of population) of hunger exists, where one person in four is under-nourished.
• Poor nutrition causes nearly half (45%) of deaths in children under five – 3.1 million children each year.
• One out of six children – roughly 100 million – in developing countries is underweight.
• One in four of the world’s children is stunted: in developing countries the proportion can rise to one out of three.
• 66 million primary school-age children attend classes in a state of hunger across the developing world, with 23 million in Africa alone.

• WFP calculates that US$3.2 billion is needed per year to reach all 66 million hungry school-age children.
Exacerbating the already chronic hunger and stunting situation is population growth. Over the past eight years, the world’s population has grown from just under 7 billion to 7,6 billion. Urban populations during this period have grown from 3,5 billion to 4,1 billion. By 2050, the world population is predicted to be nearly 9,7 billion. (Source: Worldometers -
Add to this mix climate change, political unrest, illegal immigration, pollution of our natural resources and politicians more interested in maintaining their power at the next election, and we have a toxic fusion that imparts little confidence in the future of mankind.

More to the point is why there is such disparity in the ability of the various peoples to feed themselves. Much has to do with cultural differences and the way in which citizens and governments of countries accept responsibility for their own future. The resulting reality is that we need different plans for different nations. Some nations are creative and build for the future, while others have a consumer culture. They use but they don’t create.

The role of government is crucial to improving on these current dire circumstances so that prosperity rather than poverty will be the modus vivendi of nations. Two important elements must exist for prosperity to replace poverty, and these elements are man-made and are the responsibility of governments:
• The security and safety of the citizenry
• The establishment of a government policy environment conducive to establishing confidence so that entrepreneurs and investors will be encouraged to create businesses for the future of the country and for themselves. One corollary of this is jobs. Government policies are thus at the very core of a country’s growth, prosperity and sustainability.
What happens when governments do not walk this path? This sobering reality exists throughout the world. Corruption, self-enrichment and the obsession with maintaining power at any cost are the antithesis of growth and success. Another golden thread apparent within these countries is blaming everyone but themselves for their shortcomings. Thus the buck stops nowhere.
Political instability, weak and even non-existent food and agricultural policies, indecisive conservation practices, war and conflicts: all are man-made and have caused immense devastation. Add to this climate change and its corollary unstable weather patterns, drought, hurricanes, cyclones,

landslides, soil erosion and over-grazing and there appears to be a very slim chance that the world will recover. Other side effects such as disease and water pollution sentence millions to the afore-mentioned circle of poverty.

We hear soothing words from political platforms, particularly about the sustainability of agricultural production, but in many countries, actions don’t match the speeches. They have deviated from the principles that ensure food sustainability and live in a world of ideologically-driven platitudes. The results are embarrassingly evident, but these politicians seem not to notice. They are focused on the next election. Rational thinking is a rarity.
A country’s agricultural policy should be based on economic principles and the need to provide food for the population. These principles should remain immutable regardless of the government in power. In the South African context, this has

not happened and the results are catastrophic. Between mass starvation and food for 53 million people are a few commercial farmers whose tenure is unstable due to antagonistic government policies, crime and counter-productive legislation. The government seems to have lost the plot in this crucial arena.
Farming expertise is vital for successful commercial farming. Cultural differences are important: the Western approach of accepting responsibility and adopting a sense of urgency (tomorrow may be too late!) is embedded in Western thinking. This is why SA’s commercial farmers can produce what they do. They can think independently and most importantly, they have a passion for what they do.
They hold the key to South Africa maintaining “food on the table”, and their disappearance will mean a Zimbabwe/Venezuela scenario for South Africa.

from the headquarters of
TAU SA in Pretoria




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