In 2007 South Africa became a net importer of agricultural products for the first time in more than 20 years as local food output failed to keep pace with a growing population, according to the National Agricultural Marketing Council.
Also the number of farms in active production fell by 12.7 percent to fewer than 40 000 in the five years to 2007, Statistics SA said yesterday. Agriculture experts attributed the decline to consolidation while discounting a government view that food producing land was being bought up for golf courses and game farms.
Full story in the South Africa Business Report
And another threat to the food supply ...
In the Wheat Fields of Kenya, a Budding Epidemic
Stem Rust, Vanquished by Science Five Decades Ago, Has Returned in a Destructive New Form
By Sharon Schmickle
Special to The Washington Post
Wednesday, February 18, 2009; A08
GREAT RIFT VALLEY, Kenya -- A virulent new version of a deadly fungus is ravaging wheat in Kenya's most fertile fields and spreading beyond Africa to threaten one of the world's principal food crops, according to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization.
Stem rust, a killer that farmers thought they had defeated 50 years ago, surfaced here in 1999, jumped the Red Sea to Yemen in 2006 and turned up in Iran last year. Crop scientists say they are powerless to stop its spread and increasingly frustrated in their efforts to find resistant plants.
Nobel Peace laureate Norman Borlaug, the world's leading authority on the disease, said that once established, stem rust can explode to crisis proportions within a year under certain weather conditions.
"This is a dangerous problem because a good share of the world's area sown to wheat is susceptible to it," Borlaug said. "It has immense destructive potential."