NEVA MAKGETLA: Poor foot the bill for food trade protection
Why is the government so considerate to commercial farmers? These are not stalwart yeoman tilling the soil themselves
Next time you buy food, you will also be paying for extraordinarily high tariffs on staples — notably wheat, sugar and chicken. Specifically, you’re contributing to tariffs of 25%-30% on wheat and sugar, and – depending on the type and origin – up to 30% on chicken. Those tariffs in effect divert your hard-earned rands to sustain a small number of commercial farmers and agricultural trading firms. In part because of these tariffs, prices for wheat and sugar have risen markedly faster than overall inflation for the past 15 years or so. For chicken, trade measures have been less effective in keeping out imports, so the price has not risen above the consumer price index. Of course, the latest tariff increases are supposed to change that.If you’re reading Business Day, you probably aren’t too fussed about the cost of basic foods. But half of households live on less than R3,500 a month and the added cost is a real burden. Why, in a democracy is the state so considerate to commercial farm...