South Africa: Why Are South Africans Hungry When There's Surplus Food?


While so many South Africans are naturally worried about avoiding Covid-19, it is clear that to even more people the greatest fear is hunger. The evidence is that so far, food production has remained the same, but farmers have too much food on their hands. Yet, the price of food has gone up.

There is now ample evidence that many people are going hungry, and that for many the situation is desperate. Queues for food parcels, queues for UIF applications, queues to apply for social grants, are all evidence of how bad the reality is for many of our fellow South Africans. People who made their pre-Covid-19 living by running spaza shops, cutting hair, washing cars, or guarding cars in shopping centres, the millions of people in the informal sector, have almost all been unable to work and earn a living for themselves and their families.

It is also too early to say definitively what is happening in our food supply mechanisms. There is not enough data available. But there is enough evidence to make certain points.

The amount of food South Africa produces has not changed, it is the same as it was before the lockdown. But the...

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