Media release: Collaboration essential for improved food security in South Africa

“Cross-sectoral collaboration is essential if we are to improve food security in the country,” notes Dr Scott Drimie, Director of the Southern Africa Food Lab. “There are no quick fixes to the issues we face, but by bringing together the very different, and sometimes even opposing voices across the food sector, we hope to discover solutions.”

Drimie was speaking at the Southern Africa Food Lab’s Workshop on Shifting the Food System, which was held in Soweto earlier this week. The national workshop brought together a great diversity of stakeholders in the food system ranging from smallholder farmers, NGO representatives, academia, retailers and members of government.

Tsakani Ngomane, representing the Ministry of the Presidency, noted that while government had a big role to play, particularly in terms of ensuring a policy environment conducive to a just and sustainable food system, we must share responsibility for the food system to some extent. Just as every person in the country is affected by our food system, so too every one affects it simply through their purchasing behavior as consumers.

“The price of an average food basket increased by 15% between September 2015 and September 2016,” says Mervyn Abrahams, Director of PACSA (The Pietermaritzburg Agency for Community Social Action).

Abrahams noted that the price of the average monthly food basket, at R3115,26 for five people, exceeds the median monthly wage of R3036 so that even without taking the costs of housing, transport and municipal services into account, the average South African can not afford to feed their family.

“Rising food prices are just one of the issues impacting on food security in the region,” explains Dr Drimie, “Farmers across the spectrum, in particular smallholders and subsistence producers, are experiencing the impacts of the current drought.”

“But along with all the challenges come opportunities. The food system offers the chance to empower youth and women.”

One attendee told of a start up in Khayelitsha whereby excess fresh produce was donated and then processed into jams and chutneys, providing an income to vulnerable women.

“Those of us who grow food are not only cultivating crops, we’re cultivating communities,” said a smallholder farmer in attendance at the workshop.

“We believe that through transferring our collective knowledge to participants and their networks, we will see greater momentum in advancing the collaborative action in addressing the identified levers key to changing in the food system,” concluded Dr Drimie.


For more information contact Carolyn Cramer, Communications Manager for the Southern Africa Food Lab at or 082 929 0348.