Budget speech 2023: Decisive interventions needed to protect food security

As South Africa awaits the 2023 Budget Speech to be delivered by Minister Enoch Godongwana on 22 February, it is crucial that the Minister announces measures to protect the country’s food security. With loadshedding as the most urgent threat to the nation’s farmers, government must be resolute in allocating resources to buttress farmers from its worst effects and ensure the sustainable production of food in the interests of all South Africans.

The Budget Speech comes on the heels of the State of the Nation Address by President Ramaphosa, in which a number of interventions were announced to help alleviate the electricity crisis. But more than appointing a Minister of Electricity or declaring a State of Disaster, the country’s food producers need concrete and practical budgetary and fiscal measures to assist in their plight.

In particular, Minister Godongwana must focus on:

 1.     Providing higher rebates on diesel and petrol used for electricity generation;

2.     Implementing incentives to promote grid-connected generation capacity and reconnection of off-grid systems; and

3.     Lowering or removing cumbersome taxes on struggling agricultural industries such as the excise taxes on tobacco, wine and beer as well as the Health Promotion Levy.

Moreover, with the President having announced a tax incentive for businesses to install rooftop solar, Minister Godongwana needs to provide detail on this intervention and any special provisions for the agricultural sector.

The Budget Speech must also provide for the allocation of resources to building new infrastructure and repairing existing infrastructure (especially crumbling road and rail networks) to enable the sector and value chain partners to reliably supply food across the country. This intervention is particularly urgent now as more than half the country’s provinces have been battered by floods with devastating consequences for farmers. On this score too, the State of Disaster concerning the floods urgently needs to be accompanied by sufficient funding to provide meaningful relief to the affected communities and farmers.

Agri SA is deeply concerned about the confluence of challenges that have come together to make food production in South African especially difficult at this time. For the sake of the public that relies on the sector for sustenance, and for the workers who rely on us for their livelihoods, these challenges must be prioritised in the budget. This is the only way to prevent sharp increases in food prices, food shortages, and job losses in South Africa. Agri SA continues to work with urgency to engage critical stakeholders and ensure that we find solutions to pressing problems timeously.

Media enquiries

Kulani Siweya

Agri SA, Chief Economist

C: 084 018 6019

Christo van der Rheede

Agri SA, Chief Executive Officer

C: 083 380 3492