The Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies says localised productive activity in the agro - processing sector will go a long way in promoting food security, beneficiation and job creation in South Africa. Minister Davies was speaking at the launch of the Kuvusa Maize Mill in Durban, today. The mill is part of the Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP) Small-scale Maize Milling initiative. The initiative forms part of the Department of Trade and Industry's (the dti) contribution to improving food security in South Africa by reducing the cost of maize-meal by at least 20%.
"Food security is not only about the available quantity of food but it is about the affordability of prices of food stuffs. The food price inflation has been higher than the overall rate of inflation in this country. As a very large section of our population is living on very low incomes that kind of an increase of a commodity that is a higher proportion of their shopping basket is very devastating. With other factors such as high lever of concentration in the agro - processing sector and transportation costs taken into consideration, localised production is the appropriate solution to our challenges in regard to food security in this country," said Davies.
He pointed out that the project would also contribute in industrialisation efforts of the country.
"There is an agreement among African ministers of trade and industry that for Africa's industrialisation to become a reality, we need to promote value addition and industrialisation of our agricultural products that we produce in our continent, amongst others," said Davies.
He added that the mill would also contribute in creating employment in Durban and surrounding areas as 27 direct and 120 indirect jobs have already been created as a result of the establishment of the mill.
As part of the dti's commitment to food security and poverty alleviation, the maize-meal produced at the mills set up as part of the small-scale maize milling initiative will be marketed at prices below prevailing market rates. In so doing the dti will be introducing competition into a highly concentrated sector which has an unfortunate history of uncompetitive practices which have directly impacted on poor consumers' ability to feed themselves and their families.
The Managing Director of African Micro Mills and co-founder of Kuvusa Mills, Mr Sé Higgins said that they are planning to open more small-scale mills in rural locations in 2013.
"Essentially by establishing these mills in rural areas we will be negating the rising cost of logistics by creating a parallel track of decentralised facilities wherein rural areas are incorporated into the main stream value chain. In addition to job creation and simultaneous provision of a route-to-market for emerging farmers, these commercially viable projects have important implications for lowering maize meal prices in rural areas by as much as 20%," said Higgins.