Food security and agriculture

  • The 2018 budget for agriculture and rural development was R30 billion – less than 2% of the total national budget.

  • The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries reported a decline in agriculture’s share of GDP, from 2.8% in 1994, to 2.1% in 2016.


  • The Land Audit Report released by the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform in 2017 showed
    that state ownership of land is not as extensive as sometimes claimed – at 20 million hectares, compared with 93 million hectares in private ownership. Thirty-nine percent of total registered private land in South Africa was owned by individuals (72% White-owned, 15% Coloured-owned, 5% Indian-owned and 4% Black-owned). Trusts owned 31%, companies owned 25%, community-based organisations owned 4% and 1% of land was co-owned.


  • The Western Cape Department of Agriculture, citing a macro-level impact assessment, reported that the Western Cape agricultural sector was set to lose R5.9 billion in 2017/18 and that 30 000 farm jobs had been lost as a result of an ongoing period of drought.

  • In addition to the one percentage point VAT increase, South Africa also experienced considerable fuel hikes in 2018. Economists estimate that 80% of food in South Africa is transported by road and, according to the PACSA monthly food price barometer: April 2018, the cost of a food basket for a family of seven people increased from R2 886 in September 2017, to R3 144 in April 2018.

  • According to The Economist’s Global Food Security Index 2017, a measurement tool that reports on the affordability, availability and quality of food accessible to the population, South Africa ranked 44 out of
    113 countries surveyed. The scorecard focuses on criteria such as the presence of food safety net programmes, nutritional standards, food safety, food loss, agricultural import tariffs, volatility of agricultural production,
    food consumption as a share of household expenditure and access to farmer financing.

  • In 2017, the Children’s Institute at the University of Cape Town reported that 5.5 million children in South Africa – around 30% – suffer from hunger-related issues.

● 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 impact
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 and smallholder farms to market
(whether formal or within the community) is an important link in the sustainability of small farmers
that deserves more attention and support.
● Water access and quality need to be considered as part of small-scale farming interventions. Lowtech
irrigation ideas, such as rainwater harvesting, have an impressive impact 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.