Responding to Food Security Challenges

In 2002 the Department of Agriculture published the integrated food security strategy for South Africa which cited five key areas considered to be the key food security challenges in the country:

1. Inadequate Safety Nets
Poor households are characterized by few income-earners, and many dependants. Many households are often primarily dependent on migrant remittances and social security grants, making them vulnerable to food insecurity

2. Weak Support Networks and Disaster Management Systems
South Africa does not yet have a structured system of dealing with food security disasters, such as droughts or floods. These disasters, which occur at regular intervals, can substantially threaten the food security position of agriculture-based households.

3. Inadequate and Unstable Household Food Production
Hunger and malnutrition in South Africa stem from insufficient, unstable food supplies, at the household or intra-household level. The majority of producers in the former homelands are unable to feed their families from their narrow production base. Government assistance is often a major source of income for these households.

4. Lack of purchasing power
The majority of households in South Africa lack cash to purchase food. Underlying the lack of purchasing power is the limited scope of income opportunities, especially in the rural areas.

5. Poor Nutritional Status
One child in four under the age of six years (translating to approximately 1.5 million children) is stunted due to chronic malnutrition.

The SA parliament has declared that every South African citizen has the right to safe and nutritious food at all times. The challenge for South Africans is to work together to see this goal both realized and sustained. Achieving food security for all has recently moved to the forefront of the policy agenda internationally with many role players rising to the challenge. The University of Stellenbosch has established a strategic Food Security Initiative aimed at improving knowledge of the food security situation in South and Southern African in order to inform policy and practice in this field.

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