Food security and agriculture

Recent droughts have posed a major threat to food security and agriculture. However, according to The State of Food and Agriculture 2015 report, South Africa is able to boost national food sufficiency through a combination of own production and food imports. The government has prioritised several national policies and programmes which contribute to raising nutritional levels, particularly for vulnerable people. Relevant policies include the Integrated Food Security Strategy developed in 2000, the National Development Plan, the Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme, and the Food Security Production Intervention Programme, introduced in 2012.

Overview of CSI spend

The food security and agriculture sector was supported by 41% of companies and received 7% of CSI expenditure in 2016.


Guidelines for effective funding

  • Rural food security initiatives, particularly self-sustaining food gardens and agricultural training, are in line with government’s focus on rural development. These projects have the potential to make a big impact on poverty alleviation.
  • It is worth considering supplementing school feeding schemes with the establishment of food gardens, which can be used to supply the scheme and to increase awareness and skills around growing vegetables. These gardens also have the potential to raise the profile of agricultural sciences as a career for young people.
  • Getting fresh fruit and vegetables from community gardens to market (whether formal or within the community) is an important link in the sustainability of self-sufficient small farmers that deserves more attention and support.
  • Water access and quality need to be considered as part of small-scale farming interventions. Low-tech irrigation ideas, such as rainwater harvesting, make impressive impacts on yield, and education is required in this regard.
  • There is a critical need for emerging farmers to be trained in business management skills and to set up networks through, for example, web-connected IT centres, for farmers to access market data and share information. 

Big picture figures

  • The 2016 national budget for agriculture, rural development and land reform was R26.4 billion – a 147% increase from the R10.7 billion budget specified in 2015.
  • Recent drought resulted in sector losses worth R16 billion across South Africa.
  • Statistics South Africa’s Community Survey 2016 showed that about 20% of households ran out of money to buy food in the last year. The number of households that skipped a meal in the last year decreased from 17% in 2015 to 13% in 2016.
  • According to Trading Economics, food price inflation is expected to decrease from 11% in Quarter 2 of 2016 to 7% by 2020.