While global food shortages and high prices could have a disastrous effect on poor communities, especially in Africa, it offered third world countries an opportunity to rejuvenate their ailing agricultural industries, which have for many years been hampered by low prices caused by large scale subsidies in the West.
This is according to Crookes Brothers chairman Fred Palmer who said on Friday: "We believe too that this will offer development opportunities for Crookes Brothers, possibly outside of South Africa in our neighbouring SADC countries."
However, he told the agricultural group that while admirable in principle, the present structure of land reform could pose a threat to the food security situation in South Africa.
"Evidence suggests that small growers will be unable to produce efficiently on small areas or in sufficient volumes to feed our growing population," he said.
He believed that Crookes Brothers had a part to play in addressing the shortage of skills in the agricultural sector and to provide support for community beneficiaries of land claims. "Thus management are taking the bold step to establish joint venture schemes to assist new owners of land to remain productive."
Looking ahead, Palmer said it was early in the year for mana- gement to make accurate profit projections.
However, he said the banana crop looked promising but prices in the local market were volatile. "The volume of apples picked in the recent season exceeded expectations, and high selling prices are expected to remain firm for the rest of the year."
"Grain is in its early growth stage and with late winter rains, production is unlikely to reach last year's levels, but prices are expected to remain higher than last year," he said. - I-Net Bridge