Picture: REUTERS/Mike Hutchings (SOUTH AFRICA)- African Trade Unions (COSATU) march through the streets of Cape Town in protest against high food, fuel and electricity prices August 6. South Africa’s giant mining companies were badly hit by a strike yesterday over rising power, food and fuel prices that threatened to bring the continent’s biggest economy to a standstill.

Cabinet today highlighted strategies it says are necessary to deal with rising food prices in South Africa and reduce the country’s reliance on food imports.

Communications head Themba Maseko says Medium to long-term strategies in this regard included, among others, the strengthening of emerging farmers and the creation of community food gardens.

The focus on food prices comes after thousands of South Africans took to the streets yesterday in a nationwide strike — called by the Congress of SA Trade Unions — to protest against soaring prices of goods and services.

Maseko noted rising food prices “also present a window for the development of a vibrant and sustainable agricultural programme to meet the country’s food requirements and to make South Africa a net exporter of food”.

On establishment of a proposed National Food Control Agency, he says this would not regulate food prices, but deal with issues such as strengthening the agro-processing industry and food safety issues, among others.

A legislative “framework” for the agency would be ready by the end of March next year.

On help to the country’s poor, Maseko says government’s social security interventions were already reaching millions of people.

he says “for instance, over 12 million people are receiving social grants, while expenditure on social assistance will be over R75.3 billion by [next year].”

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