Pretoria — The launch of a maize mill in KwaZulu-Natal will go a long way in promoting food security, beneficiation and job creation, says Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies.
Davies was speaking at the launch of the Kuvusa Maize Mill in Durban on Thursday. The mill forms part of the Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP) small-scale maize milling initiative.
"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.
"A very large section of our population is living on very low income [and] that kind of an increase of a commodity that is a higher proportion of their shopping basket is devastating," said the minister.
The initiative forms part of the department's contribution to improving food security in the country by reducing the cost of maize-meal by at least 20%.
"Localised production is the appropriate solution to our challenges in regard to food security in this country," said Davies.
The minister pointed out that the project will also contribute to the industrialisation of the country adding that the mill will create jobs in Durban and the surrounding areas with 27 direct and 120 indirect jobs having already been created as a result of the mill.
"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.
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.
According to the dti, this will introduce 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.
Managing Director of African Micro Mills and co-founder of Kuvusa Mills, S, Higgins said that there were plans 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.