Why is it that food prices are so high that millions of South African families go hungry, while the prices paid to farmers for that same food are so low that many cannot stay in business? Why are the people that produce our food – farmworkers – among the most insecure of all? Why do high levels of rural poverty persist while corporate profits in the food sector keep rising? How did a country with a constitutional right to food become a place where 1 in 4 children is so malnourished that they are classified as stunted?
In this seminar Tracy Ledger will present analysis from her book “An Empty Plate” on the state of the South African agri-food system. She will demonstrate how this system is perpetuating poverty, threatening land reform; entrenching inequality and tearing apart our social fabric. In her book Tracy asks two crucial questions: how did we get to this point and how might we go about solving the problem?
Tracy Ledger is a South African researcher in the field of economic development, with 25 years of research experience. She holds a PhD in Anthropology from the University of the Witwatersrand and a Master’s degree in Agricultural Economics from Stellenbosch University. She is an agri-food activist, believing that a more equitable agri-food system is fundamental to building a more equitable society.
This seminar jointly organised by the Centre for the Study of Governance Innovation and the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence for Food Security.
“The humanities in food studies” is a mini-conference hosted by the Critical Food Studies Programme: Transdisciplinary Humanities Approaches
Farm workers are an integral component of the economy and the food system in South Africa. Yet they are invariably poor, food insecure, marginalised and vulnerable to exploitation. Pro-farm worker legislation since 1994 has provided some protection, but it has also been associated with violations of labour rights and an accelerating pace of evictions and casualisation. Moreover, because agricultural employment is concentrated at specific times of year, seasonal farm workers face an under-reported crisis of underemployment and seasonal hunger.