Agriculture and Food Security
Food Security in South Africa

© Chris Daly
Wheat harvest in the Overberg, South Africa.
So far, there has been a bias towards thinking that food security is only about production, so when policy makers think about how to address food insecurity, it is invariably the departments of agriculture or water affairs that get handed the issue. And the conversation is usually in terms of how climate change will impact on growing conditions for plants, land reform policies or skills transfer to emerging farmers. When a city designs its food security policy, it might well put all its resources into rolling out food gardens but might not pause to think about how school feeding schemes or the distribution of nutrient supplements in the form of sprinkles might be a far better way of spending the budget.

The fact that South Africa’s Integrated Food Security Strategy falls within the ambit of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is telling, in terms of the government viewing food security as a matter of production and farming, rather than a broader and more cross-cutting issue.

Although the tendency to focus only on production is a skewed and incomplete view of the picture that is food security, it is still important to consider agriculture and food production.

SouthAfrica.co.za discusses the business of farming, covering topics such as the effects of weather and economic fluctuations on farms, the political climate for South African farmers and making sure enough food is produced to keep the nation fed.

© Leonie Joubert

Crops Losing Nutritional Density

African soils are already nutrient-poor. Many studies have found that the nutrient load in certain fruits and vegetables has been on a steady decline over the past half-century....more

Effects of Weather on Farms

It is the morning after another heavy rain. The last rivulets of water still trickle their way over the sodden earth and head for lower ground, leaving the sand twinkling back in delight at the smouldering blue sky that still hangs with the occasional...more

Efficient and Sustainable Farming

The agricultural sector is expected to be all things to all people. It has to prop up a nation’s or a region’s food security, and it is expected to provide jobs, alleviate poverty and lubricate economic development....more

Generational Farming

Keeping commercial farmers in the business of growing food is key to a nation’s ability to feed itself. And in a world where inheritance is often crucial to keeping land productive – the farmer’s son takes over the operation...more

Global Markets Affecting Prices

Standing beneath the clattering tin roof with the rain thrashing down and churning the dirt road outside to an ochre soup, farmer Jan Scheepers reaches down to pick up a fistful of beans so he can inspect his produce....more

National Food Security

Food, for the average poor household, is about survival. For people in the business of growing, processing and shipping food, it is a commodity. They are not doing it out of altruism; they are doing it for the profit....more

Real Life Story: Becoming a Farmer

At 34, he has achieved what most farmers aim for in a lifetime. Between himself and his wife, Amelia, they have built up a small empire through calculated risk-taking on the back of rising land prices....more

Shrinking Farmer Numbers

Most of South Africa’s food goes through the hands of large-scale commercial interests. We have as few as 40 000 big farmers who account for a third of our gross farming income, while ten agri-businesses supply 85% of our produce....more

The Economics of Growing Food

Farmer Jan Scheepers slides his notepad forward on the office table. Beneath the crest of arms printed in the top centre of the page and the words ‘Massey University’, most likely from one of his many trips abroad...more