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Will Botswana have enough food during the World Cup?

Staff Writer
The World Cup comes to South Africa in 52 days. Already it is clear that there will be a shortage of certain foodstuff. So far we know the demand for milk exceeds supply during the soccer event.

 As a country that is heavily dependant on South Africa for consumables, we need to be constantly reminding ourselves that food prices are likely to shoot up during the World Cup. We have seen it before, where a VAT increase for example becomes a good excuse for grocery stores and other retailers to hike food prices. We can almost be certain that it will happen during the World Cup. In fact, it will happen first in South Africa, and by the time those products that reach us do, the prices would be up several times. As residents of Botswana, we need to bear in mind that there will at least be half a million additional mouths for South Africa to feed during the World Cup. We need to appreciate the fact that South Africa's obligation is to feed people within its borders first, before it can sell food to other countries. How prepared are we to feed our people in times of food shortages?

The immediate repercussions of a sudden and sharp rise in food prices may not mean much to the middle, upper-middle and affluent sections of our society. But it is a big deal - even a matter of life and death - for that section of society that lives below the poverty datum line. We should not see it as something far-fetched that people may starve, and that others may simply abandon homes and children as things become too difficult. We can only hope that the

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government, late as it is, considers the likely scenario, puts in place plans to mitigate the situation and advises citizens accordingly. What food items are likely to run short, for example? We believe such information should be easily availed to the public. That should go a long way in assisting the consumer know what to buy and how much, at least in view of the number of days of the World Cup, and perhaps up to a month after. For example, are we likely to run short of meat of any type? Corn? Mealie-meal? Sugar? Cheese? Surely, a published list will go a long way in assisting the consumer make decisions on what to buy.

We urge the relevant government departments to speedily do this. A shortage of certain foods may mean deterioration of the health of some people with certain health conditions and even death. People may need bigger storages, for example freezers, to store food. While at it, government needs to have in place a system for coordinating and even encouraging the sale of locally produced foods. There are upcoming milk producers for example who have been complaining that their produce is not being bought. Then we have vegetable producers and yes, the local subsistence farmers who should be encouraged to plant more with a view to sell. 

                                                              Today's thought
"Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect."
                                                               - Mark Twain



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