Joint Publications

TAFS Policy Brief 1: Transitions to Agroecological Food Systems in South Africa – Policy landscape and strategic opportunities

Published 31 October 2022, by Stephen Greenberg, Scott Drimie and Bruno Losch

Synopsis for an agroecology transition in South Africa

In South Africa, access to food and adequate nutrition is a right enshrined in the Constitution. Yet, hunger is rife and food access is a daily struggle for more than 14 million South Africans (23% of the population), with malnutrition in its various forms being a significant health challenge. In parallel, South African agriculture is increasingly unsustainable in the context of climate change and environmental degradation. Transforming the food system is imperative.

Current approaches to transformation are restricted to incremental adaptations to the dominant agricultural model, primarily using Conservation Agriculture (CA)/Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) approaches. While these may offer necessary pathways to greater environmental sustainability in commercial agriculture, they fall short of what is needed for transforming the food system.

To effectively address the sustainability crisis, a transformational change is needed where social dynamics must play a major role. This requires support for different producer categories, the development of new food networks supporting local food system dynamics, and improved participation based on consumer-producer collaboration. Progress must be cross-sectoral, throughout the food system, and at multiple levels simultaneously. An agroecological approach can recalibrate this system to achieve both ecological sustainability and social justice.

South Africa is in a position to consolidate these opportunities. Numerous policies, plans and programmes have elements that can be drawn together to underpin a national agroecology strategy and programme. Importantly, a national re-engagement can be facilitated by linking and learning from various local level initiatives where stakeholders can more easily engage in actions targeted at their common challenges. Districts and municipalities can play a major role by supporting synergies between sustainable and local development.

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Phase 2 – Agroecological initiatives in South Africa: Lessons and recommendations from three study sites – Synthesis report

Background to the study  Low- and medium-income countries face several interlinked sustainability challenges. In particular, food systems must provide food and nutrition security, decent jobs and incomes, and adapt to climate change in a context where government budgets are constrained. Agroecological approaches are increasingly recognised as relevant solutions for ensuring ...

TAFS Policy Brief 2: Learning from Local Initiatives for Agroecological Development in South Africa

Synopsis Transformation of food systems in line with agroecological principles remains marginal in South Africa. In spite of numerous policies, plans and programmes, limited change highlights the weak budgets, segmented interventions and lack of coordination. These problems reflect the power dynamics in the prevailing food system, which is dominated by ...

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