Featured Publication

Annual Report 2016

Annual Reports


joint publications

Food trade and investment in South Africa: Improving coherence between economic policy, nutrition and food security

This paper analyses the policy agendas that shape the food environment in South Africa, and aims to identify potential to improve policy coherence for nutrition, across economic sectors in South Africa. From a food supply perspective, food security and nutrition policy is effectively governed by economic policy actors – this includes agriculture, trade, finance, investment and commerce/industry.

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Are trade unions and NGOs leveraging social codes to improve working conditions? A study of two locally developed codes in the South African fruit and wine farming sectors

The paper explores one aspect of the food security question, namely the livelihoods of farmworkers, which ultimately speaks to the sustainability of farms and the provision of food. It focuses on the emergence of locally made private social codes (Wine and Agricultural Ethical Trade Association – WIETA, and Sustainability Initiative of South Africa – SIZA) in the Western Cape fruit and wine sectors and how compliance with such codes has increasingly become a requirement to export to certain markets (being an aspect of vertical governance in the fruit and wine value chains). Many standards in private social codes duplicate...

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Trade and investment in fish and fish products between South Africa and the rest of SADC: Implications for food and nutrition security

This paper looks at the dynamics of intra-regional trade and investment in fish and fish products between South Africa and the rest of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) region, and the implications of this trade for food and nutrition security. It is based on key informant interviews with people in the food industry in South Africa and Africa regional economic bodies. Imports and exports of fish in South Africa are driven by import substitution, shortfalls in local production, and meeting growing local and regional demand. Most South African fish and food processors prefer to export, rather than establish...

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policy briefs


working papers

School Feeding in South Africa: What we know, what we don’t know, what we need to know, what we need to do

This working paper draws on the proceedings of a ‘National Workshop on School Feeding in South Africa’, convened in November 2017 by the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Food Security. Workshop participants engaged with unresolved debates in school feeding, notably its objectives and impacts, which include food security and nutrition, education access and outcomes, intergenerational poverty reduction, employment creation and support to local agriculture. In South Africa, the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) currently provides meals to over 9 million learners. The NSNP has two other pillars – Nutrition Education and Deworming, and Sustainable Food Production – but 96%...

read
Accountability and the right to food: A comparative study of India and South Africa

It remains a great source of concern that, as richly endowed as the world is, each day millions of people go to sleep hungry and almost 870 million people, particularly in developing countries, are chronically undernourished. Also, every year, 6 million children die, directly or indirectly, from the consequences of undernourishment and malnutrition – that is, 1 child every 5 seconds. The international community at various forums in the last twenty years or so have committed to ending undernourishment in the world. The right to adequate food is guaranteed in a number of international and regional human rights instruments....

read
Food security and nutrition: Impure, complex and wicked?

By Julian May, October 2017 Food security and nutrition are receiving renewed attention in international and national policy agendas. This has been accompanied by a profusion of theoretical concepts borrowed from diverse disciplines and then employed to describe challenges to achieving food security and adequate nutrition. Complex eco-systems, wicked problems and public goods are among these.  In order to make a constructive contribution to policy debate, the underlying political economy of food security is interrogated to understand why food security problems may be indeterminate. This reveals food to be an outcome from a complex problem-determined food eco-system. The problems...

read

joint publications

Food trade and investment in South Africa: Improving coherence between economic policy, nutrition and food security

This paper analyses the policy agendas that shape the food environment in South Africa, and aims to identify potential to improve policy coherence for nutrition, across economic sectors in South Africa. From a food supply perspective, food security and nutrition policy is effectively governed by economic policy actors – this includes agriculture, trade, finance, investment and commerce/industry.

read
Are trade unions and NGOs leveraging social codes to improve working conditions? A study of two locally developed codes in the South African fruit and wine farming sectors

The paper explores one aspect of the food security question, namely the livelihoods of farmworkers, which ultimately speaks to the sustainability of farms and the provision of food. It focuses on the emergence of locally made private social codes (Wine and Agricultural Ethical Trade Association – WIETA, and Sustainability Initiative of South Africa – SIZA) in the Western Cape fruit and wine sectors and how compliance with such codes has increasingly become a requirement to export to certain markets (being an aspect of vertical governance in the fruit and wine value chains). Many standards in private social codes duplicate...

read
Trade and investment in fish and fish products between South Africa and the rest of SADC: Implications for food and nutrition security

This paper looks at the dynamics of intra-regional trade and investment in fish and fish products between South Africa and the rest of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) region, and the implications of this trade for food and nutrition security. It is based on key informant interviews with people in the food industry in South Africa and Africa regional economic bodies. Imports and exports of fish in South Africa are driven by import substitution, shortfalls in local production, and meeting growing local and regional demand. Most South African fish and food processors prefer to export, rather than establish...

read
Trade, food and nutrition security in South Africa: The cases of sugar and poultry

The purpose of this paper is to consider the role that trade plays in food and nutrition security in South Africa. Despite an established commercial food system, South Africans experience high levels of food and nutrition insecurity – both under-nutrition and rising rates of diet-related non-communicable diseases (NCDs). The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) defines food security as ‘a situation that exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life’. This...

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The informal sector’s role in food security: A missing link in policy debates?

This paper aims to review what is currently known about the role played by the informal sector in general and informal retailers in particular, in the accessibility of food in South Africa. The review seeks to identify policy relevant research gaps. Drawing on Statistics South Africa data, we show that the informal sector is an important source of employment, dominated by informal trade with the sale of food a significant subsector within this trade. We then turn our attention to what is known about the informal sector’s role in food sourcing of poorer households. African Food Security Urban Network’s...

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What is the value of the constitution? Value chains, livelihoods and food security in South Africa’s large- and small-scale fisheries

This paper seeks to assess the state of knowledge in relation to the interrelated subjects of value chains, livelihoods, food systems, and regulatory dynamics in South Africa’s large- and small-scale fisheries. South Africa’s marine fisheries play an important role in sustaining the livelihoods and food security of poorer coastal communities. However, the post-apartheid fisheries dispensation is marked by structural inequalities between large- and small-scale fisheries sectors, with direct implications for livelihoods and food security. Addressing these inequalities in practice requires a critical understanding of South Africa’s fisheries economy and governance system, and in particular, the way that benefits from...

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Going nowhere fast? Changed working conditions on Western Cape fruit and wine farms – A state of knowledge review

This state of the knowledge review sets out to identify the main research themes and findings in the literature on labour relations and conditions on Western Cape fruit farms over the past 20 years. The paper also compares if and how farmworker livelihoods have changed since the heyday of Apartheid, and the role of the state in these changes. While farmworkers enjoy vastly more legal protection than in the past most may, in fact, be worse off economically. This lack of improvement can be attributed to the state’s contradictory policy approach to the sector: while it extended protection to...

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At the bottom of the food chain: Small operations versus multinational corporations in the food systems of Brazil, Mexico and South Africa

This report examines how the food systems in South Africa, Brazil and Mexico are dominated by a small group of MNCs of both foreign and national origin that play a significant role in agricultural inputs and production, processing and manufacturing of foodstuffs, procurement, storage and transportation, retailing and consumption. Many studies of the food system track individual commodities, such as staple food items, in order to understand MNC dominance. However this approach carries the risk of underestimating the ownership and market share of conglomerates, and to their privileged access to information, capital, and political power, which operate and are dominant in more...

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Lusaka’s local food geographies: A gendered reading of everyday food insecurity in Mtendere, Lusaka

Little is known about how individual abilities and food security determinants – at the scale of everyday life – connect to formal and informal value chains, and broader urban structural systems in which daily processes are embedded. Structural inequalities in urban systems make it difficult to translate economic development into improved food security at different city, household or individual scales. Exploring current a-scalar and anti-urban food security policies and practice in Southern Africa, the paper argues that everyday food security strategies – which enable food access and sharing in food communities – are enmeshed in local food system structures....

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working papers

School Feeding in South Africa: What we know, what we don’t know, what we need to know, what we need to do

This working paper draws on the proceedings of a ‘National Workshop on School Feeding in South Africa’, convened in November 2017 by the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Food Security. Workshop participants engaged with unresolved debates in school feeding, notably its objectives and impacts, which include food security and nutrition, education access and outcomes, intergenerational poverty reduction, employment creation and support to local agriculture. In South Africa, the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) currently provides meals to over 9 million learners. The NSNP has two other pillars – Nutrition Education and Deworming, and Sustainable Food Production – but 96%...

read
Accountability and the right to food: A comparative study of India and South Africa

It remains a great source of concern that, as richly endowed as the world is, each day millions of people go to sleep hungry and almost 870 million people, particularly in developing countries, are chronically undernourished. Also, every year, 6 million children die, directly or indirectly, from the consequences of undernourishment and malnutrition – that is, 1 child every 5 seconds. The international community at various forums in the last twenty years or so have committed to ending undernourishment in the world. The right to adequate food is guaranteed in a number of international and regional human rights instruments....

read
Food security and nutrition: Impure, complex and wicked?

By Julian May, October 2017 Food security and nutrition are receiving renewed attention in international and national policy agendas. This has been accompanied by a profusion of theoretical concepts borrowed from diverse disciplines and then employed to describe challenges to achieving food security and adequate nutrition. Complex eco-systems, wicked problems and public goods are among these.  In order to make a constructive contribution to policy debate, the underlying political economy of food security is interrogated to understand why food security problems may be indeterminate. This reveals food to be an outcome from a complex problem-determined food eco-system. The problems...

read
Why does malnutrition persist in South Africa despite social grants?

According to most subjective and self-reported indicators, food security in South Africa is improving over time.  However, objectively measured anthropometric indicators record only a marginal improvement in children’s nutrition status since the early 1990s. This is despite the introduction in 1998 and subsequent expansion of the Child Support Grant, which now reaches over 11 million children in South Africa and has been found to increase food consumption and dietary diversity in poor households. How can this paradox be explained? This paper reviews the evidence on food security and child nutrition trends in South Africa and identifies several reasons why...

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Journal Article & book chapter links

2018-10-03, Journal Articles
Can smallholder avocado production reduce poverty and improve food security through internal markets? The case of Giheta, Burundi

Author Cyriaque Hakizimana and Julian May

Publication Forests, Trees and Livelihoods

2018-09-20, Journal Articles
Inhibition of NOS- like activity in maize alters the expression of genes involved in H2O2 scavenging and glycine betaine biosynthesis

Author Kyle Phillips, Anelisa Majola, Arun Gokul, Marshall Keyster, Ndiko Ludidi & Ifeanyi Egbichi

Publication Nature

2018-08-17, Journal Articles
Drought and exogenous abscisic acid alter hydrogen peroxide accumulation and differentially regulate the expression of two maize RD22-like genes

Author Kyle Phillips & Ndiko Ludidi

Publication Nature

The global food system is characterised by increasing concentration and financialisation.