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The integrated food security strategy for South Africa

Department: Agriculture
Republic of South Africa


17 July 2002

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Executive Summary

Food security is part of the section 27 Constitutional rights in South Africa. On these rights, the Constitution states that every citizen has the right to have access to sufficient food and water, and that “the state must by legislation and other measures, within its available resources, avail to progressive realisation of the right to sufficient food.

The Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) in 1994 identified food security as a priority policy objective. As a result, the Government reprioritised public spending to focus on improving the food security conditions of historically disadvantaged people. That policy resulted into increased spending in social programmes of all spheres of government such as school feeding schemes, child support grants, free health services for children between 0-6 years, for pregnant and lactating women, pension funds for the elderly, working for water, community public works programmes, Provincial community food garden initiatives like Kgora and Xoshindlala, land reform and farmer settlement, production loans scheme for small farmers, infrastructure grant for smallholder farmers and the Presidential tractor mechanisation scheme.

By 2000, changes became necessary to improve the unsatisfactory situation that was occasioned by the implementation of many food security programmes by different Government departments in all spheres. As a result, Cabinet decided to formulate a national food security strategy that would streamline, harmonize and integrate the diverse food security programmes into the Integrated Food Security Strategy.

South Africa faces the following key food security challenges: The first is to ensure that enough food is available to all, now and in the future; the second, is to match incomes of people to prices in order to ensure access to sufficient food for every citizen; the third is to empower citizens to make optimal choices for nutritious and safe food; the fourth is ensure that there is adequate safety nets and food emergency management systems to provide people that are unable to meet their food needs from their own efforts and mitigate the extreme impact of natural or other disasters on people; finally, to possess adequate and relevant information to ensure analysis, communication, monitoring, evaluation and reporting on the impact of food security programmes on the target population.

The vision of the Integrated Food Security Strategy is to attain universal physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food by all South African at all times to meet their dietary and food preferences for an active and healthy life. This statement is also a definition of food security by the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nation (FAO). Its goal is to eradicate hunger, malnutrition and food insecurity over 2015. And its strategic objectives are to:

  1. Increase household food production and trading;

  2. Improve income generation and job creation opportunities;

  3. Improve nutrition and food safety;

  4. Increase safety nets and food emergency management systems;

  5. Improve analysis and information management system;

  6. Provide capacity building;

  7. Hold stakeholder dialogue.

The IFSS approach is the development approach. This approach entrenches public private civil society partnerships and focuses on household food security without overlooking national food security. It operates on the following basis.

Firstly, food security interventions will ensure that the target food insecure population gains access to productive resources; secondly, where a segment of the target food insecure population is unable to gain access to productive resources, then food security interventions will ensure that segment gains access to income and job opportunities to enhance its power to purchase food; thirdly, food security interventions will ensure that the target food insecure population is empowered to have nutritious and safe food; fourthly, where another segment of the target food insecure population is still unable to access sufficient food because of disability, extreme conditions of destitute – food security interventions will ensure that the state provides relief measures that may be short-term to being medium-term and sustained basis, depending on the nature of given interventions; fifthly, food security interventions will proceed from an analysis that is grounded on accurate information and the impact of which - in eradicating hunger, malnutrition and food insecurity - is constantly monitored and evaluated.

Under the current Minister’s Social Sector Cluster Plan of Action, the Special Programme for Food Security will deal with all interventions that pertain to food production trading strategic objectives of the IFSS; whilst the job and income creation opportunities objectives will be dealt by the Community Development Programme; nutrition and food safety by the Integrated Nutrition and Food Safety Programme; safety nets and food emergencies management by the Comprehensive Social Security system and Disaster Management; capacity building by the Food Security Capacity Building Programme; stakeholder dialogue by Food Security Stakeholder Dialogue Programme; finally, analysis, information and communication by the Food Security Information and Communication Programme, with the Social Indicators initiative from Statistics South Africa as the main input.

A core of Social Sector Cluster departments will support the IFSS. These will include Departments of Health; Social Development; Public Works; Water Affairs and Forestry; Transport; Education; Housing; Provincial and Local Government; Land Affairs; Environment and Tourism; Arts, Culture, Science and Technology. The list is not exhaustive. More than one department may lead and co-chair an IFSS programme. Lead departments will present the details of their programme and the IFSS lead department will, in turn, consolidate these into the Integrated Food Security Programme (IFSP). It is proposed that IFSS lead departments be as follows:

  1. Special Programme for Food Security - Department of Agriculture;

  2. Community Development Programme - Department of Public Works;

  3. Integrated Nutrition and Food Safety Programme - Department of Health;

  4. Comprehensive Social Security Programme - Department of Social Development;

  5. Information and Communication Programme - Statistics South Africa;

  6. Food Security Capacity Building Programme - all departments; and

  7. Food Security Stakeholder Dialogue Programme - All departments.

IFSS lead departments are chosen from Social Cluster departments to, among other reasons, enable greater oversight within rather than outside the Ministers’ and DGs’ Social Sector Cluster. It will be task of lead departments to ensure linkages within Social Cluster sub-themes. Similarly, lead departments have to lead the Social Cluster to engage other Clusters, the private sectors and civil society.

Lead and co-lead departments will formulate the details of their respective programmes. Within the current Social Sector Cluster Plan of Action, many of these programmes are at different levels of implementation, development and planning. Some have been costed and discussions about their funding are underway. The IFSS proposal will entail dealing with the Comprehensive Social Security System in a combined fashion with Food Emergency Management that properly resides under Disaster Management.

The issues that will be embraced by the above programmes in order to advance food security are extremely wide ranging. They include strategic and sensitive issues like land reform; production of food; procurement and marketing of food products; processing, storage and transportation of food; development and micro finance; infrastructure development; human resource development; education and training; research and technology development; food prices; international trade; fiscal and monetary policies; ailments related to hunger and malnutrition; social security grants and food emergencies and access to food legislation.

The IFSS proposes the following institutional arrangements and organisational structures (see Figure 2). The Minister of Agriculture and Land Affairs should convene and chair meetings of core Ministers that lead and are core members of food security and nutrition programmes. They will provide political leadership to the IFSS and its programmes; set policy; direct and control operations; establish strategies, set institutional arrangements and organisational structures; set the norms and standards of service delivery; and report to the Ministers’ Social Sector Cluster that is chaired by the Minister of Health.

Similarly, the Department of Agriculture is the convenor and chair of the core of Social Cluster DGs responsible for the IFSS. Specifically, it will provide the IFSS with secretariat services; establish a food security unit to coordinate food security activities within national and provincial government spheres The structure also proposes components for consultative forums. These consultative forums will be a representation of stakeholders from the public, private and civil society sectors. The implementation of the strategy will require frequent dialogue with stakeholders, but most important synthesis of feedback to inform food security policies and programmes.

In line with the directive of the Constitution and in conformity with its international obligations, South Africa has to consider the proposal of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), that member states should consider the enactment of legislation on the right to access to food. More research needs to go into this matter before a firm position.

The expected outcome of the IFSS is the following:

  1. Greater ownership of productive assets and participation in the economy by the food insecure;

  2. Increased competitiveness and profitability of farming operations and rural enterprises that are owned and managed by or on behalf of the food insecure;

  3. Increased levels of nutrition and food safety among the food insecure;

  4. Greater participation of the food insecure in the social security system and better prevention and mitigation of food emergencies;

  5. Greater availability of reliable, accurate and timely analysis, information and communication on the conditions of the food insecure and the impact of food security improvement interventions;

  6. Enhanced levels of public private civil society common understanding and participation in agreed food security improvement interventions; and

  7. Improved levels of governance, integration, coordination, financial and administration management of food security improvement interventions in all spheres of government; between government and the private sector and civil society.

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