The availability of food is the starting point of all life. The main issue around food is whether people can afford it, a nutritious adequate diet that makes for healthy human beings.

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) defines food security as “A situation that exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life”.

Food insecurity is strongly related to unemployment and poverty. The two are justifiably linked as the first two goals of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): “No poverty” and “No hunger”.

Food sovereignty” serves as an alternative paradigm to the current global “food security” narrative. “Food security” says nothing about where food comes from, or how and under what conditions it is produced and consumed. Food security offers little in the way of alleviating hunger, and even less for the contradictions of hunger and malnourishment in the global agri-food system.

Source: Busiso Moyo, South Africa’s new food and nutrition policy fails to address constitutional right to food (adapted).

With a child dying every six seconds because of undernourishment-related problems, hunger remains the world’s largest tragedy and scandal.

Source: former FAO Director-General, Jacques Diouf.

This is a new face of hunger. There is food on shelves but people are priced out of the market.

Josette Sheeran, said whilst head of the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP)

Food security doesn’t begin and end on the shop shelf; it starts out in the farmlands and depends on farmers who can produce at a big enough profit to justify their risk and hard work. Once farming confidence goes and younger farmers lose interest and move elsewhere, no amount of social or political engineering will turn the boat around.

Source: Roelof Bezuidenhout, Eastern Cape farmer

We are told of the great advances that have been made in ‘modern’ agriculture in the last 60 years. Yet there are more hungry and malnourished people on our planet today than in the whole history of humanity. While agricultural policies are directed towards cash crops, the income that this generates for rural people rarely covers their food needs.

 

The world produces more than enough calories to feed everyone, and other important issues are at stake. Social inequity, inequality, inefficiency, waste, environmental degradation and biased global economic policies are but a few. Moreover, feeding the world is not just about ensuring that there are enough calories; the quality and variety of food are equally important. It is time to start looking at food and nutrition from a different perspective: the focus should shift from food security to food sovereignty and nutrition security.

Source: Farming Matters, www.farmingmatters.org (adapted)

International business environment

Article 25.1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and wellbeing of him and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care”, and the second of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is “End hunger”. How do we improve the current global food system which fails the estimated 800 million people globally who experience food insecurity?

  • The African Union (AU)/NEPAD Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Plan (CAADP) sets out Africa’s plan of action to attain food security. See www.au.int and www.un.org/en/africa/osaa/peace/caadp.shtml
  • Africarewww.africare.org
  • Worldwide AgriCultures Network supports efforts to build up knowledge on small-scale family farming. Visit www.agriculturesnetwork.org.
  • Find the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition (BCFN) Foundation Food Sustainabiity Index at http://foodsustainability.eiu.com/
  • The Centre for Global Development (CGD) has looked at how trade affects food security in developing countries. Visit www.cgdev.org.
  • Comite Permanent Inter Stat de Lutte Contre la Secheresse au Sahel (Permanent Inter-State Committee on Drought Control in the Sahel – CILSS) – www.cilss.int
  • The Committee on World Food Security (CFS) pages are at www.fao.org/cfs/en/. The CFS is “the foremost inclusive international and intergovernmental platform for all stakeholders to work together to ensure food security and nutrition for all”.
  • EAT, a “science-based global platform for food system transformation”, https://eatforum.org.
  • The Global Food Security Index (GFSI), developed by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and sponsored by DuPont, considers the three core pillars of food security-Affordability, Availability, and Quality & Safety-across 109 countries. See http://foodsecurityindex.eiu.com.
  • The Environmental Working Group (EWG) includes food and farming in its research e.g. see its report Feeding The World.
  • Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS-NET)www.fews.net – provides world overviews.
  • Development groups like Farm Africa encourage food security activity. Take a look at www.farmafrica.org.uk.
  • Find the relevant themes like “Food chain crisis”, “Food loss and food waste” and “Hunger and Malnutrition” at www.fao.org, website of the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO). The annual State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report, the Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS) and Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES) are among the FAO’s offerings.
  • Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN)www.fanrpan.org
  • The Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) is a multilateral mechanism to assist in the implementation of pledges made by the G20 in Pittsburgh in 2009. Find updates at www.gafspfund.org.
  • Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) www.gainhealth.org
  • The Institute for Food & Development Policy (Food First) – www.foodfirst.org
  • International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) – www.ifrc.org – responds to food crises as well as to other disasters.
  • International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IAMA) – www.ifama.org – “Your Global Food System Network”
  • International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)www.ifpri.org
  • Landesa Rural Development Institutewww.landesa.org
  • One Acre Fundwww.oneacrefund.org
  • The mission of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is “to promote policies that will improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world”. Visit www.oecd.org.
  • Oxfam GB is a development, relief, and campaigning organisation that works with others “to end extreme poverty”. Find its State of Food Insecurity (SOFI) reports. An Oxfam electronic newsletter is available. See www.oxfam.org.uk.
  • ReliefWeb – www.reliefweb.int – is the global hub for time-critical humanitarian information. Updated reports on Food Security issues are included.
  • Right to Food – www.righttofood.org – website relating to Jean Ziegler, a previous UN Special Rapporteur.
  • The Rockefeller Foundation has run programmes like the Food Waste and Spoilage initiative. Halving post harvest loss would yield food for another one billion people, its YieldWise initiative says. See www.rockefellerfoundation.org.
  • Scaling Up Nutrition http://scalingupnutrition.org
  • Sight and Life http://sightandlife.org/
  • Solidaridad https://www.solidaridadnetwork.org An international civil society organisation “transforming economies to make them more inclusive and sustainable”
  • Southern African Regional Poverty Network (SARPN)www.sarpn.org
  • Wayne Roberts is an international speaker and writer on “sustainable food policy”. Take a look at http://wayneroberts.ca.
  • There are regular features on food security (and food prices) at www.worldbank.org, website of the World Bank.
  • The website of the World Farmers’ Organisation has information on food security. Find the “Food security” option at www.wfo-oma.com.
  • The UN’s World Food Programme (WFP)www.wfp.org, the “world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger”

 

Food waste

Each day, between 800 – 900 million people go hungry. In a world where there was not enough to go around, perhaps this could be understood. But the fact is that we already produce enough food to ensure everybody could have enough to eat. And then we essentially throw one-third of it away. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) work together to reduce food waste and loss, which reaches an astonishing 1.3 billion tonnes per year.

The UN and other international organisations announced a first-ever global standard to measure food loss and waste in 2016. Find the Food Loss and Waste Accounting and Reporting Standard at http://flwprotocol.org.

Food waste depletes the natural resource base that underpins food production. As much as 1.4 billion hectares of land is used to produce the total amount of food that is lost and wasted. This translates to more than 100 times the area of tropical rainforest that is being cleared every year (13 million hectares), of which 80 per cent is used for agricultural expansion.

 

There are many solutions we can implement. Infrastructure and technology can reduce the amount of food that perishes before it reaches the market. Developed nations can support public awareness campaigns and rationalize sell-by dates and other labelling systems. Businesses can revise their criteria for rejecting produce. Consumers can minimize waste by buying only what they need and re-using leftover food.

 

Read about the Think Eat Save campaign at www.thinkeatsave.org.

Local business environment

Find the Quarterly Food Price Monitor at www.namc.co.za.

Food security is not easy to quantify and figures differ. Statistics South Africa (Stats SA)‘s 2017 General Household Survey (GHS) sampled 21 225 households. When coming to food security, the report found that that nationwide, the percentage of households that experienced hunger decreased from 24,2% (2002) to 10,4% (2017). Food access problems were the most common in North West where 36,0% of households had inadequate or severely inadequate food access. Inadequate or severely inadequate access to food were also observed in Mpumalanga (29,9%), Northern Cape (24,6%), and Eastern Cape (24,6%).

Find a Parliamentary Monitoring Group report back on food security (2019, March 12) at https://pmg.org.za/committee-meeting/28093/.

For South Africa to be food secure, food needs to be available both nationally and locally, and people have to have the means to access it – buying it, producing it or even bartering for it. Knowledge on nutrition also needs to be on-hand so that people can make informed choices about what they eat.

 

Hidden hunger

Across the world two billion people live with hidden hunger. In South Africa, 24% of children under the age of 5 show signs of stunting, a sure indicator of hidden hunger.  Hidden hunger in children means:

  • They eat enough calories to sustain life, but they don’t get enough of the crucial vitamins and minerals essential for optimal physical and mental health.
  • Hidden hunger causes some 1.1 million of the 3.1 million child deaths each year.
  • Ultimately they will fail at school, will never achieve their income potential, and will remain forever trapped in the poverty cycle.
Source: Bright4Africa. Visit https://twitter.com/Bright4AfricaSA and www.facebook.com/Bright4Africa-South-Africa-1904640343102878/

 

Food waste in South Africa

Food waste is reputed to cost the South African economy more than R61 billion annually. This is some 2.1% of the country’s GDP (CSIR, 2017).

 

MORE PERSPECTIVES

South Africa’s agro-food system is generally fairly globally competitive (net exporter of food, earning very valuable foreign exchange), despite low levels of support, as measured by the Price Support Equivalency (PSE) measure of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). We need to assess the environment we face correctly, in other words diagnose our ills and strengths properly, or we will be implementing incorrect measures.

 

We should … focus on enhancing our competitiveness through infrastructure support, research and development, training and skills development, proper extension, access to development finance, safety and security, labour reform and, above all, market development that create far greater access across the spectrum of enterprises in the agro-food system. If we get these right, we will create more globally competitive value chains that will create huge opportunity for new entrants to access, participate profitably and sustainably in, and provide affordable food to South Africa.

 

If we go the way of ill-conceived protectionist and interventionist measures, these will lead to significant food price hikes and even violent food riots, which will be extremely difficult to control. Government and business will need to find common ground on these issues. We need to debate this as a matter of urgency.

 

Source: Dr John Purchase, Agbiz

National strategy and government contact

The National Food and Nutrition Security Plan (NFNSP) is made up of six strategic objectives which have to look at:

 

  • establishing a multi-sectoral Food and Nutrition Security Council to oversee alignment of policies, legislation and programmes, and coordination and implementation of programmes and services which address Food and Nutrition Security;
  • establishing inclusive local food value chains to support access to nutritious affordable food;
  • expanding targeted social protection measures and sustainable livelihood programmes;
  • scaling up of high impact nutrition specific interventions targeting nutritionally vulnerable groups across the life cycle;
  • developing an integrated communication plan to influence people across the life cycle to make informed food and nutrition decisions; and
  • developing a monitoring and evaluation system for Food and Nutrition Security, including an integrated risk management system for monitoring Food and Nutrition Security related risks.

 

Source: https://pmg.org.za/committee-meeting/25488/

The good food production campaign, Fetsa Tlala, is part of the National Food and Nutrition Security Plan (NFNSP). Read about it on the “Emerging farmer support” page. The national policy framework also includes the Constitution (sections 27, 28 and 35) and the National Development Plan which identifies food security and nutrition as a consequence of poverty and inequality as well as a cause..

Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) www.daff.gov.za

  • Directorate: Subsistence Farming Tel: 012 319 7331
  • Directorate: Small holder Development Tel: 012 319 8495

DALRRD is the Chair and Secretariat of the South African Vulnerability Assessment Committee (SAVAC) aimed at:

  • Setting the national livelihoods, food and nutrition security baseline and / or status quo;
  • Forecasting the likely impact of hazards and shocks on people’s livelihoods;
  • Monitoring information for tracking changes over time;
  • Providing guidance on different types of interventions needed in different contexts

The successful production of food cuts across other government department areas too. Some examples follow:

  • The Department of Higher Education, Science and Technology-National Research Foundation Centre of Excellence (CoE) in Food Security www.foodsecurity.ac.za. The CoE is co-hosted by the University of the Western Cape and the University of Pretoria.
  • Department of Basic Education www.education.gov.za. The Department of Basic Education runs the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP)
  • Department of Social Development www.dsd.gov.za. This is the department in charge of social grants through the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA). Almost 17 million people are reached through social grants. Contact SASSA at 012 400 2000 or visit www.sassa.gov.za. Details of district offices are available on the website.
  • Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic) www.thedti.gov.za. The dtic is involved in several aspects of food security e.g. co-operatives, agro-processing, import and export.
  • The Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) www.publicworks.gov.za. The DPWI runs the Expanded Public Works Programme through which household food security is boosted.
  • Competition Commission www.compcom.co.za. Theoretically, competition keeps prices down (because the client can go elsewhere if she or he does not like your prices). Price fixing between players in the food industry is bad news for food security.

Find the article “Social protection may be the key to uplifting Africa’s poor” on www.mg.co.za. Far from being a cost, the Unicef director argues, cash grants are an investment.

Role players

All the role players in this publication!

Abadle Abantu Tel: 072 233 1763 www.abadleabantu.co.za Agricultural development projects

ABALIMI Bezekhaya Tel/fax: 021 371 1653 http://abalimibezekhaya.org.za

Rob Small of Abalimi writes: “High-tech agriculture is not readily taken up at community level as it is capital intensive and requires a high level of skill. Based on super-technology, huge crops can be grown quickly. Food Aid organisations can channel market surplus to ensure food security. What happens, though, when there is not enough ‘free’ money to channel market surplus to the hungry?”

ACAT Tel: 033 234 4223 www.acatkzn.co.za

Help rural farmers and families to improve their quality of life – beginning with low cost food.

African Centre for Biodiversity Tel: 011 486 2701 www.acbio.org.za

African Centre for Food Security (ACFS) Tel: 033 260 5792 http://acfs.ukzn.ac.za

Afrigrow Tel: 010 900 2058 www.afrigrow.org 

Smallholder farmers trained and supply chains built for them

Agri Iphepeng Tel: 087 808 3198 / 083 265 6210 www.agristart.co.za

Agricultural Business Chamber (Agbiz) Tel: 012 807 6686 www.agbiz.co.za

Agricultural Colleges working with the Provincial Departments of Agriculture offer basic training courses in food security. Find their details on the “Agricultural education and training” page.

 

Agricultural Research Council (ARC)  The need for “sufficient, safe and nutritious food” permeates the strategic imperatives of government and therefore the goals of the ARC. Its core activities are all related to food security in some way. See www.arc.agric.za.

AgriTogo Tel: 084 703 9099 www.agritogo-farminabox.com DIY Mini Farms

Backsaver Farming Equipment Tel: 073 454 4111 www.backsaver.co.za Hand-held planters, sprayers and fertilisers for subsistence or small scale farmers

Biowatch Tel: 031 206 2954 Tel: 035 550 3148 www.biowatch.org.za

Built Environment Support Group Tel: 033 394 4980 www.besg.co.za

Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP) www.bfap.co.za.

Find BFAP’s reports on its website. These include studies into the effect of the drought and food inflation expectations.

Co-operative and Policy Alternative Centre (COPAC) Tel: 011 447 1013 www.copac.org.za

Find various relevant publications on the COPAC website like Food Sovereignty for the Right to Food: A Grassroots Activist Guide and Discussion Paper: The Right to Food and Food Sovereignty in South Africa: Challenges and Prospects.

EarthRise Trust http://earthrisetrust.org.za  Find “Tse leshome: the Rustler’s Valley blogs” on the Agri Handbook website.

EATegrity www.eategrity.co.za

A wealth of information on food security, food sovereignty and a challenge for there to be “integrity in the food chain”.

Economic Justice Network is a faith-based network on inter alia food security. Visit www.ejn.org.za.

e’Pap Tel: 011 726 5634 www.epap.co.za

Fighting “hidden hunger” and malnutrition

F & G Trust (Farm and Garden national trust) Tel: 021 801 9677 www.farmgardentrust.org

Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) www.fao.org Contact the South African office at 012 354 8536 or (email) FAO-ZA [at] fao.org

FoodForward South Africa Tel: 021 531 5670 https://foodforwardsa.org

Foodgardens Foundation Tel: 011 880 5956

Foundations for Farming
Tel: 011 974 1769 / 082 407 6774
www.foundationsforfarming.org
www.foundationsforfarming.co.za

Gift of the Givers Foundation Tel: 0800 786 911 http://giftofthegivers.org

Growing Healthy Farms Tel: 078 732 4405 https://growinghealthyfarms.org.za

HPSA Tel: 031 777 1374 www.hpsa.org.za

Human Science Research Council (HSRC) Tel: 012 302 2000 www.hsrc.ac.za

The South African National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (SANHANES) released way back in 2013 found that more than half of South Africans were food insecure i.e. did not have access to enough food.

Lindros Whole Earth Consultants Tel: 082 719 7263 http://lindros.co.za/ Watch this Youtube clip to find out about the Shaft Leadership & Agroecology Programme.

Local Village Tel: 011 026 8579 https://localvillagefoods.com

Indigenous food

 National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC) Marketing and Economic Research Centre (MERC) Tel: 012 341 1115 www.namc.co.za

Find the Quarterly Food Price Monitor and Food Cost reports on the NAMC website.

Nelson Mandela University (NMU)
Tel: 041 504 3634 / 1111
Timothy.Pittaway [at] nmmu.ac.za http://agri.mandela.ac.za

NMU also hosts a Research Chair in food security. Contact Prof MJ Roberts.

North-West University (NWU) School of Biological Sciences, Morogo Research Programme (MRP) Tel: 018 299 2330 Retha.VanDerWalt [at] nwu.ac.za

Strategies to reduce food-insecurity in rural settings should acknowledge Africa’s indigenous food culture. Enquire from the MRP how African vegetables are nutritionally superior to their Western counterparts.

Centre of Excellence for Nutrition (CEN)
Tel: 018 299 2464 http://health-sciences.nwu.ac.za/cen

Research projects involve  individuals from the communities as field workers who are trained, and therefore we create jobs and skills within the community.

Food Security and Safety (FSS) Tel: 018 389 2568 http://natural-sciences.nwu.ac.za/food-security-and-safety/about-us

Operation Hunger Tel: 011 902 4000 www.operationhunger.co.za

Peninsula School Feeding Association Tel: 021 447 6020 www.psfa.org.za/

Pietermaritzburg Agency for Community Social Agency Tel: 033 342 0052 www.pacsa.org.za

Find the PACSA food price reports on its website. The “Media” option on the website chronicles the latest coverage of food security and food prices.

Provincial Departments of Agriculture – details on the “Agriculture in the Provinces” page – have on-going Food Security Projects aimed at providing livelihood means to vulnerable communities particularly in the rural areas. These projects are also aimed at creating sustainable agricultural small-macro-medium enterprises (SMME)

Reel Gardening www.reelgardening.co.za

Siyazisiza Trust https://siyazisiza.co.za

Soil For Life Tel: 021 794 4982 www.soilforlife.co.za

Solidaridad Southern Africa Tel: 011 591 1200 www.solidaridadnetwork.org

 

South African Food Lab www.southernafricafoodlab.org

The SAFL is housed by the Food Security Initiative at Stellenbosch University.

South African Food Sovereignty Campaign
www.safsc.org.za and www.facebook.com/safoodsovereignty

South African Institute for Entrepreneurship (SAIE) Tel: 021 447 2023 www.entrepreneurship.co.za

The AgriPlanner programme contributes to food availability for schools and communities. The further development of vegetable gardens builds income generation capabilities.

Stellenbosch University (SU) Tel: 021 938 9098

SU runs a research programme, the Food Security Initiative

Studies in Poverty and Inequality Institute (SPII) Tel: 011 832 3085 www.spii.org.za

Sustainability Institute Tel: 021 881 3196 www.sustainabilityinstitute.net

Thanda Agriculture Development Tel: 039 699 1253 www.thanda.org

Tshikululu Social Investments Tel: 011 544 0300 www.tshikululu.org.za Uses Corporate Social Investment (CSI) funds to invest in food security

Umthati Training Project Tel: 046 637 0012 https://umthathi.org

University of Cape Town
Division of Human Nutrition
Tel: 021 406 6235
www.humannutrition.uct.ac.zaUCT’s Children Institute publishes the South African Child Gauge report which found (November 2018) that six million SA children live below the poverty line. Visit www.ci.uct.ac.za.University of the Free State (UFS) Department of Agricultural Economics Tel: 051 401 2824 www.ufs.ac.za/agri-econ UFS Centre for Sustainable Agriculture, Rural Development and Extension Tel: 051 401 3765 www.ufs.ac.za/censard UFS Disaster Management, Training and Education Centre for Africa (Dimtec) Tel: 051 401 2721 www.ufs.ac.za/dimtec

University of Pretoria Institute for Food, Nutrition and Well-being  Tel: 012 420 6149 www.up.ac.za

University of the Witwatersrand Siyakhana Initiative for Ecological Health and Food Security
www.siyakhana.org

Urban Harvest Tel: 021 300 1766 http://urbanharvest.co.za

 

If the way to get food is to buy it, problems result when the country has a constant unemployment rate of just over 25%. For this reason, any effort to empower food gardens at home are encouraged. Visit websites of role players like www.operationhunger.co.za and www.reelgardening.co.za.

Websites and publications

The websites mentioned earlier on this page.

 

Some articles

World overviews of food insecurity are given by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS-NET) – visit www.fews.net. See also the the latest annual Global Food Security Index at http://foodsecurityindex.eiu.com

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