Deputy Speaker, Omri van Zyl, a senior associate at Deloitte, has issued a warning that our country is facing a very real prospect of food shortages in the coming decade.
Using data from AgriSA, he shows that the average age of South African farmers is 62 years. In Australia the median age is 53 years and in the EU it is 55 years. While the ageing farmer population is indeed going to be a problem, electricity shortages, the slow pace of land reform, and intensifying droughts make up a toxic mix.
A World Bank study estimated in 2009 that just 11,8% of the national territory of 1,2 million km is arable. This is another major problem we have.
Data from AgriSA indicates that South Africa today has 83 000 fewer commercial farmers than in 1994. Government needs to ensure that our country has a stream of younger entrants into agriculture, so that food security is guaranteed.
Last year agriculture contributed only 3% to our gross domestic product. This is half of what it contributed in 2008. We cannot afford to be complacent about agriculture and food security.
Cope is taking this matter very seriously and urges government to make agriculture growth an apex priority. We need to be food producers and exporters, not food importers. Thank you. [Time expired.]