The need for food security in the sub-region leaves commercial farmers and governments no choice but to work together, newly elected of Agri SA president Johannes Möller said on Thursday.

Referring to World Food Day on Thursday, Moller said Agri SA and its members could not ignore the plight of 900 million people worldwide who did not have enough food to sustain life and work.

“We would have wanted to celebrate today as World Food Day knowing that all people are well nourished and also that the agricultural sector is acknowledged and valued as having made a meaningful and sustainable contribution in this regard,” said Moller.

He said South Africa was until recently a net exporter of agricultural products. However the situation was reversed in the recent past due to the growth in the local economy.

Athough there were obvious positive elements to this, the country’s underperformance in the production of tradeable goods and other aspects were of concern. “It should be abundantly clear to local policy makers that political imperatives, be it land reform or be it black economic empowerment, should be carried out with circumspection and within the context of maintaining the production capacity of the sector.”

Nevertheless, Moller pointed out that the local agricultural sector had built up a proud record of providing food to the local population at reasonable prices, despite a hostile international environment.

“The recent failure of the DOHA round of international trade negotiations certainly did not support our need for and drive towards obtaining a level playing field,” he said. During Agri SA’s recent congress farmers “seriously scrutinised” the contribution they could make to support newcomers to the sector locally as well as through involvement in the SADC.

“The need for food security in our region and on our continent leaves us with few other choices,” he said