Year of publication: 2022
Place of publication: Rome, Italy; Brussels, Belgium; Montpellier, France;
Pages: #50 p.
ISBN: 978-92-5-136209-9
Author: FAO, European Union, CIRAD
By Country/Territory: South Africa
Publisher: FAO; European Union ; CIRAD;

Food systems are intimately linked to our lives – through the food we eat, our nutrition and health, our livelihoods, jobs, and the environment and natural resources of the planet. The main challenge for food systems is to produce nutritious food for all while preserving our biodiversity and environment and ensuring equitable distribution of wealth. This Food Systems Profile provides a summary of the main food system issues in South Africa and highlights potential solutions for their sustainable and inclusive transformation. It is the result of a systemic analysis and stakeholders’ consultation that was part of a global assessment of food systems in over 50 countries, following a joint initiative by the EU, FAO, and CIRAD which aims at catalyzing the sustainable and inclusive transformation of food systems. Last updated 25/05/2022

Cite this content as:

FAO, European Union, CIRAD and DSI-NRF Centre of Excellence in Food Security (CoE-FS). 2022. Food Systems Profile – South Africa. Catalysing the sustainable and inclusive transformation of food systems. Rome, Brussels, Montpellier, France and Bellville, South Africa.

(Originally published by the FAO. For more information, please visit the FAO website.)

With the COVID-19 pandemic exposing the shortcomings of the national and global food systems, the 2020 Food Dialogues came at an opportune time; bringing diverse voices into the conversations about how we bring about the changes we need in our food system to protect livelihoods and eliminate hunger, while at the same time dealing with the health and economic consequences of the virus and their mitigation. This report weaves together common threads from the wide range of speakers, topics, themes, and talks. It aims to be a resource that others can draw upon for guidance in shaping policies, activism, projects, and programmes to make a difference in our food system.

The right to food in South Africa is recognised and guaranteed in various laws at the international regional and national level.

The right to food in South Africa is recognised and guaranteed in various laws at the international regional and national level. Access to adequate food is a serious challenge across the globe, leading to hunger and malnutrition. Currently, 1 in 8 people worldwide go hungry every day. In 2015, the international community adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the second of which is to end hunger by 2030 and ensure that no one anywhere in the world is hungry or malnourished. Although South Africa is striving to meet the SDGs, hunger remains pervasive, with millions of people in the country suffering daily from hunger. Food insecurity is a reality for many, all the more so for vulnerable groups.

About 54% of South Africa’s township microenterprises trade in food or drink. More than two-thirds of these are grocery retail businesses in the form of spaza shops and smaller ‘house shops’. These are the predominant businesses within the ‘township economy’ and play an important role in food security, self-employment and community cohesion. In the last decade, the business of spaza shops (dedicated, signposted businesses with a range of foodstuffs and open five days per week or more) has undergone extensive change towards a new class of entrepreneurial traders – mostly foreign nationals. This change has meant that the sector has become increasingly controversial and associated with chauvinistic and xenophobic discourses targeting immigrants. While the nature, causes and extent of change in informal grocery retail markets have been noted by various authors over the past decade, there is as yet no comprehensive account of the changing nature of business dynamics and competitiveness in the sector.

Souring by lactic acid fermentation and lactic acid acidification as well as inclusion of amaranth were explored as ways of improving the protein quality and iron and zinc bioaccessibilities of non‐alcoholic sorghum‐based beverages. The bioaccessible iron and zinc increased by 128–372%, 24–194%, respectively, in the fermented and chemically acidified beverages compared to the beverages without fermentation or acidification. The protein digestibility, reactive lysine, and bioaccessible iron in sorghum‐amaranth beverages increased by 14–58%, 24–52% and 34–64%, respectively, compared with the 100% sorghum beverages. Both fermentation and acidification with lactic acid have the potentials for improving the nutritional quality of cereal‐based foods as a means of combating protein malnutrition and iron and zinc deficiencies.

Organic agriculture world-wide allows farmers to produce healthy food with low levels of external inputs, and often shortens the value chains, giving farmers a higher share of the consumer dollar.

This book reports on long-term comparative organic farming systems research trials carried out over the last four years in South Africa’s Southern Cape, as well as research on the organic sector and the technical tools it requires in South Africa, Zambia, Uganda and Tanzania.

The trials show how the yield gap between organic and conventional crops was closed over 3 years. Water use efficiency was also greater in the organic farming system, and pests and diseases were effectively controlled using biological products. Farmer training approaches, soil carbon analysis, participatory guarantee systems, the Zambian organic farming sector (agronomy) and Ugandan organic farmer training support, and a sector plan for southern African organic farming are examined.

The effect of 0.1 M NaOH as a solvent and blending with pre-gelatinized maize starch on the foaming properties of laboratory extracted total zein and total kafirin were determined. Both total zein and total kafirin in 0.1 M NaOH were found to have higher foaming capacity (up to 118% foam volume increase) compared to their non-foaming (0% foam volume increase) properties in water. Blending with pre-gelatinized maize starch reduced the foam volume but increased the foam stability to more than 24 h. Total zein and total zein-pre-gelatinized starch blends had relatively higher foaming capacity than total kafirin and total kafirin-pre-gelatinized starch blends probably because zein was more surface active (more negative zeta potential value) than kafirin. However, total zein and total zein-pre-gelatinized starch blend foams were less stable with time than total kafirin and total kafirin-pre-gelatinized starch blend foams. This is possible because total kafirin, having higher amount of cysteine, can have higher degree of cross linking than total zein to form stronger lamellae. The foam microstructure, bubble size and foam film thickness are related to the foaming capacity and foam stability. Larger bubble size corresponded with higher foaming capacity but smaller bubbles and thicker film lamellae corresponded with lower foaming capacity and improved stability. The improved foam formation of total zein and total kafirin in 0.1 M NaOH solution compared to water could be due to the higher degree of deamidation in 0.1 M NaOH, which in turn would make them more surface-active and could increase their solubility/dispersibility.

Mycotoxins are toxigenic fungal secondary metabolites and known carcinogens that pose a significant threat to economies, trade, health and compromises food safety. Favourable environmental conditions on the African continent encourage the proliferation of fungal species, increasing the possibility of attendant mycotoxins to be present in foods, a situation that aggravates challenges to address them. Due to the susceptibility of common food crops to these toxins and the general inability of some conventional food processes to eliminate them, they are found in derived/processed foods. Detoxification and reduction of mycotoxins in the food chain still remains a significant topic necessitating a sustainable, affordable and effective strategy for mycotoxin control. Fermentation of food confers desirable properties and improves food quality. This food processing technique is also a notable inexpensive mycotoxin decontamination strategy that can be explored not only to improve the constituents in food, but equally reduce and at best eliminate mycotoxins. In the absence of sophisticated monitoring and prevention mechanisms in Africa, exploiting fermentation would be vital in improving nutrition and ensuring food safety. While this processing technique generally favours mycotoxin reduction, preventing the occurrence of these toxins in crops, effective handling and storage practices before fermentation may ensure complete prevention of the heinous effect of these toxins on human health.

This study investigated the nutritional composition, antinutrients and phenolic composition of raw, hulled and dehulled Bambara groundnuts (BGN) (Vigna subterranea) and their derived dawadawa products. Phenolic compounds were investigated using ultra-high performance liquid chromatography-quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry (UHPLC/Q-TOF-MS) system while determination of amino acids and mineral contents were done using high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES), respectively. Oxalate, tannin and phytic acids were quantified while microstructure of the samples was viewed using scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Results showed a decrease in quinic acid, medioresinol and quercetin-3-O-galactoside-7-O-rhamnoside in all dawadawa samples. Likewise, significant (p ≤ 0.05) increases were observed for protein, majority of the amino acids and minerals after fermentation. On the contrary, levels of oxalate, tannin and phytic acids were noted to have decreased in the dawadawa samples, as compared to the BGN. SEM also revealed modifications in the structural morphology of the samples. The higher phenolic compounds in the hulled dawadawa, positions it as an excellent source of health beneficial components, while the dehulled samples could be equally considered from a nutritional perspective.

Child malnutrition remains a major public health problem in low-income African communities, caused by factors including the low nutritional value of indigenous/local complementary porridges (CP) fed to infants and young children. Most African children subsist on locally available starchy foods, whose oral texture is not well-characterized in relation to their sensorimotor readiness. The sensory quality of CP affects oral processing (OP) abilities in infants and young children. Unsuitable oral texture limits nutrient intake, leading to protein-energy malnutrition. The perception of the oral texture of selected African CPs (n = 13, Maize, Sorghum, Cassava, Orange-fleshed sweet potato (OFSP), Cowpea, and Bambara) was investigated by a trained temporal-check-all-that-apply (TCATA) panel (n = 10), alongside selected commercial porridges (n = 19). A simulated OP method (Up-Down mouth movements- munching) and a control method (lateral mouth movements- normal adult-like chewing) were used. TCATA results showed that Maize, Cassava, and Sorghum porridges were initially too thick, sticky, slimy, and pasty, and also at the end not easy to swallow even at low solids content—especially by the Up-Down method. These attributes make CPs difficult to ingest for infants given their limited OP abilities, thus, leading to limited nutrient intake, and this can contribute to malnutrition. Methods to improve the texture properties of indigenous CPs are needed to optimize infant nutrient intake.

Next Page »