Food security and Agriculture: National Context

  •  The 2019 budget for agriculture and rural development was R30.7 billion, constituting less than 2% of the total national budget.

  • The comprehensive agricultural support programme grant of R5 billion over the medium term (2019–2021) aims to create 450 black commercial farmers during this period, by providing more affordable credit through a blended finance mechanism developed by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) and the Land Bank, to leverage government and private funds.

  • Through Operation Phakisa, DAFF has also allocated R5 billion to provide 435 000 subsistence farmers over the medium term with support which includes access to markets, repairing infrastructure damaged by floods, drought relief and revitalising provincial agricultural colleges.

  • According to Stats SA’s report, titled Towards measuring the extent of food security in South Africa: an examination of hunger and food inadequacy, released in 2019, 6.8 million South Africans experienced hunger in 2017. While this number dropped from 13.5 million in 2002, 1.7 million households are still affected, more than half a million of which had children aged five years or younger.

  • The same report found that, out of the 16.2 million households in the country, 1.7 million (10%) were vulnerable to hunger in 2017; 63% of which were in urban areas. Despite Limpopo being one of the poorest provinces, it had the least number of households vulnerable to hunger due, in large part, to the popularity of subsistence farming in the region.

  • According to The Economist’s Global Food Security Index 2018, a measurement tool that reports on the affordability, availability and quality of food accessible to the population, South Africa ranked 45th out of 113 countries surveyed (down one place since 2017). The scorecard focuses on criteria such as the presence of food safety net programmes, nutritional standards, food loss, agricultural import tariffs, volatility of agricultural production, food consumption as a share of household expenditure and access to farmer financing.

Guidelines for Effective Funding in Food Security and Agriculture

  • 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.

National Directives for Food Security and Agriculture

Land Redistribution for Agricultural Development, 2001
This document builds on the 1997 White Paper on Land Policy that sought to help reverse the injustices
of the past and encourage economic growth. It serves as the policy framework document for the
Land Redistribution for Agricultural Development sub-programme, which seeks to contribute to the
redistribution of 30% of the country’s agricultural land over 15 years; improve nutrition and the income of
rural poor who want to farm on any scale; decongest overcrowded former homeland areas; and expand
opportunities for women and young people who stay in rural areas. Land issues remain a major concern
and, in 2012, the government released a discussion document on land reform policy.
Policy for the Small-scale Fisheries Sector in South Africa, 2012
This policy recognises that artisanal fishers were excluded from the long-term rights allocation process
under the General Policy on the Allocation and Management of Long-term Fishing Rights of 2005, and the
effect this had on small-scale fishing communities. It provides a mechanism for allocating fishing rights
and equitable access to small-scale fishing communities.
National Policy on Food and Nutrition Security, 2013
The goal of the National Policy on Food and Nutrition Security is to ensure the availability, accessibility
and affordability of safe and nutritious food at national and household levels. It builds on the national
Integrated Food Security Strategy that was approved by cabinet in 2002 to eradicate hunger, malnutrition
and food insecurity by 2015. However, a global economic slowdown, increased food price volatility and the
impact of climate change necessitated the review of the strategy and development of a comprehensive
National Food and Nutrition Security policy. 
The policy identifies various pillars of ensuring food and nutrition security, which include building effective food assistance networks, improving nutrition education, aligning investments in agriculture towards local economic development, improving market participation of the emerging agricultural sector
through public-private partnerships and investing in food and nutrition security risk management.
Integrated Agriculture Development Finance Policy Framework for Smallholder Farmers, 2015
The goal of this policy framework is to integrate various types of agricultural finance for smallholder
farmers, offered by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF). This framework also
provides the context within which DAFF can develop a future development finance policy for the
agricultural sector in South Africa.