Miners’ destruction of arable land puts food security at risk
- On September 30 I attended a high-level policy roundtable. The question at hand: could (and should) soya bean production be increased in SA? Soya beans are critical for animal feed, and as incomes rise so does the demand for animal products. In fact, SA’s per capita consumption of poultry nearly doubled between 2001 and 2018, and the country has not been able to meet its demand for poultry feed. SA imports a half a million tons of soya bean oil cakes, 90% of which is imported from Argentina. As agribusiness executives interacted, one asked, “Why can’t we expand soya bean production in Mpumalanga?” Well, because the mining houses beat the agribusinesses in the competition for land — and the two industries can’t share the same ground because of the often irreversible environmental damage imposed by mining.