As the globe commemorates World Food Day, many in South Africa simply cannot afford basic food stuffs.
A KwaZulu-Natal NGO has been monitoring food prices over the past eight years and says the price of an average basket of food has increased nearly nine percent, year-on-year.
It’s now worried that soaring food prices could lead to even more protests across the country.
Ruth Smith’s main source of income is a pensioners’ grant – just over R1,300.
“It’s quite difficult ‘cos what’s pension money? Pension money is nothing, you must pay your rent, you must pay your money and then my daughter too she helps me out to buy food and everything,” commented Smith.
With just R500 to spare for food every month, Smith struggles to make ends meet.
The 71-year-old supports her daughter and four camera-shy grandchildren.
If food prices continue to climb, she could be forced to cross off everyday items like bread and meat from her grocery list.
“We’ll have to buy less of the tinned stuff. Maybe we’ll have to buy one tin of fish, one tin of baked beans, and all that”.
Smith’s daily struggle is one that more than half of all South Africans share.
“As food becomes more expensive, people opt for cheaper and cheaper foods. This trend we have seen for a number of years and we have come to the stage where even the cheaper choices of foods have now become unaffordable,” said Mervyn Abrahams of the Pietermaritzburg Agency for Community Social Action.
NGO Pacsa says the cost of an average basket of food products went up from just over R1,500 to R1,640 rand in September this year.
The price of starches, such as potatoes, maize meal and bread, increased the most.
“If we locate the problem as a problem of availability, then the solution lies within agriculture. If the problem is a problem of affordability, then solution lies in our economics and political choices,” added Julie Smith of the Pietermaritzburg Agency for Community Social Action.