Perspectives from the Field A working document synthesizing interviews with key stakeholders in the food system

12 March 2010

Prepared by Reos with input from Ralph Hamann of UCT Graduate School of Business and Milla McLachlan Stellenbosch University.


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Towards a Food Secure Southern Africa



This synthesis report is a key outcome of phase 1 in a year-long change lab process focused on identifying opportunities for addressing food insecurity in South and southern Africa. It is a working document intended to highlight issues raised in 21 interviews with key role-players in government, business and civil society. (See appendix 1 for a list of interviewees.) The writers of this report have highlighted a range of issues, including those that represent areas of agreement and convergence among interviewees, as well as those where there is some disagreement. Strongly emphasized opinions by one or just a few interviewees are also represented. The purpose of the report is therefore NOT to report on consensus about the most popular opinions, but instead to bring attention to issues the various players interviewed felt strongly about. This report aims to achieve a few things: firstly, to help all stakeholders in the food security system see the issues as a whole – the system that spans production through to consumption. Secondly, the report aims to identify the areas that need attention. And thirdly, the report highlights areas where players have energy to contribute collectively. This report only mirrors the views of the 21 interviewees. No additional information is included. Even though these interviewees represent a broad spectrum of the food security system, there are gaps. Also, most of the interviewees are from South Africa and while they considered and addressed regional issues, they view them from a South African perspective. To broaden the information available, we have added a press review on food security from January to December 2009, as well as a high-level desk review. An Overview of the Synthesis Report This report is divided into three main sections. The first section looks in some detail at what interviewees said about the current reality of the food system, the second section explores what was said about future options, and the third section looks into what choices need to be made and where to start. In the Current Reality section, all of the players who in some way influence food security are outlined, as identified by interviewees. The interviewees had much to say about the role players spanning the entire value chain: farmers and farm workers, input providers (seed, fertilizer, transport, water and land), manufacturers, retailers, and finally consumers. The role of the state came up frequently in different forms. Regulation issues were highlighted, both on the agricultural side (emerging farmers) and consumer side (food quality and safety). Related to this, competition policy was an emotive topic raised by many. The role of research was mentioned as a contributing factor to innovation and validation of better food security processes. Social partners such as the Food Bank and GAIN were referenced repeatedly as important umbrella organisations helping to reduce food insecurity. This section also includes a systems overview of food security – what interviewees had to say about the overall strains and stretches of the existing system. It is interesting to note that many of the interviewees suggest that the players at the two ends of the value chain (farmers/farm workers and consumers) are increasingly the most vulnerable to forces beyond their control that influence food security. Some interviewees questioned whether a more local/regional focus was necessary to address food insecurity, rather than the existent global, open market, approach. This was a contested issue. The Towards a Food Secure Southern Africa 3

move into Africa by mostly retailers also provoked some comment about its implications for food security in southern Africa, positive or negative. To wrap up this section, interviewees highlighted a range of initiatives, which are already in progress and improving the situation. The second section of the report looks at future paths – what respondents said about where we are heading, and would like to head. There were two main views emerging. The first supported a more incremental approach to better food security, which made use of existing systems and policies. The second advocated for the entire food system to be changed in some way, either through government policy and regulation, or for example, growing the idea of livelihood farming by connecting many more people to the possibilities of growing their own food and distributing excess through new channels such as cooperatives. Sometimes, the same person expressed aspects of both views. The final section of the synthesis report motivates for the approach of making the path while walking it. After reviewing the interviews and how they reveal the system of food security, the authors have observed that there are parts of the value chain that are becoming increasingly vulnerable – farmers and consumers in particular. Creating a more sustainable food system – one that works for everyone – will require a better understanding of how consumers (particularly low income consumers) and farmers (including farm workers) experience the system. Only then can we work together to create the kind of system we want. Part of a collaborative exercise would need to look at how we can improve this reality. Firstly, by taking Learning Journeys to see this reality firsthand, and secondly by identifying where opportunities exist to change it. Participants will have the opportunity to share this experience with other players in different sectors of the value chain, thus expanding relationships and broadening people’s awareness of what it is like to see the food security reality from multiple perspectives. From these learning and sharing opportunities, participants will establish what particular issue or problem they would like to tackle together. The intention from here on is that the process follows the needs and interests of the participants involved, and the design of the project is therefore being kept as flexible as possible to enable you to have the impact in the system that you can and want to have.

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INTRODUCTION Background: The Food Security Change Lab is a cross-sector initiative intended to increase meaningful collaboration for system wide improvements to food security. It was created by a group of concerned stakeholders who came together for a workshop in February 2009 in Johannesburg entitled: “What will it take to ensure sustainable food security in South Africa?” About 70 participants from business, government and civil society attended this workshop, which concluded that improved cross-sector collaboration was vital for dealing with the many ‘stuck issues’ that impede system-wide improvements to food security. A large majority of participants confirmed their commitment to contribute to such a collaborative process. Food security is particularly disturbing in southern Africa. The inability of a large proportion of southern African households to reliably access decent food is a fundamental aspect of their deepening poverty trap. Furthermore, in the context of rapid urbanisation in this region, the character of food insecurity is changing – it is no longer primarily a rural problem. Overall, a premise confirmed at the workshop is that increasing agricultural production is vital, but enhancing food security also requires broader, more systemic interventions in the value chains linking the production, manufacturing, and retail of food. To take this process forward, a steering group was established to represent a range of key organisations in government, business and civil society. The steering group is chaired by Milla McLachlan from Stellenbosch University and Ralph Hamann from the UCT Graduate School of Business. By the end of 2009, a funding commitment for the first phase of a oneyear change lab process was obtained from the Gesellschaft fuer Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ, the German development aid agency), with future funding available conditional upon successful completion of the first phase. The first phase of the change lab process consisted of interviews with key role-players in the food system. An overview of issues emerging in these interviews is provided in this report. Based on the findings of the first phase, which provide an overview of the system, the project team will identify key initiatives from which we could learn and possibly apply that learning in a collective effort. These initiatives will be experienced first-hand through Learning Journeys. Learning Journeys are visits to parts of the food security system, often located outside the urban areas where many of the main players in the system operate. The purpose of these visits is twofold: to experience first-hand some possibilities which could influence better food security, and to offer participants the opportunity to expand their own ideas and assumptions about food security. The participants of these Learning Journeys will then come together to share insights and decide on their next steps – what ideas they want to work on together, and what concrete form these ideas would take.

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1. THE CURRENT SYSTEM This section looks at the food system as it currently is, in three ways. Firstly, it considers the major players in the system, as described and viewed by interviewees, secondly it looks in overview at the big issues and trends that interviewees drew attention to, which were largely, although not exclusively, issues of concern. And finally, the section ends by looking at the ‘seeds of change’: activities and initiatives already happening in the system that are sources of inspiration and focus for future action. 1.1 THE CURRENT SYSTEM: SYSTEM PLAYERS Interviewees spoke in depth about most of the players in the food system. The views expressed are presented here beginning with consumers, moving through the system to producers, and finishing with government and academia who play a more diffused role across the system. NGOs were not discussed at any length, but their role emerges in a number of the issues, such as welfare responses and working with subsistence farmers, later in the document. 1.1.1 POOR CONSUMERS Several interviewees felt that in recent years in the sub-region of Southern Africa, poor consumers have become worse off, and this reality is unlikely to change. There are different opinions about direct support to alleviate immediate needs. ACCESS One researcher underlined that, relatively, food in South Africa is good value. If you are looking at bread, we have the second cheapest bread in the world, compared to Egypt (the cheapest), they’re getting a lot of support. If you look at protein, poultry, especially broilers – we used 16kg per capita in 1996 to 32kg today – that tells you that distribution channels and production are becoming more efficient. Our food is relatively affordable. The problem is that most people can’t afford it, as they don’t earn enough. In SA and many other parts of southern Africa, the food issue is a price issue. Its not because it isn’t available. If we produce enough food, there will be enough to eat, but the problem for SA is where access to that food is a huge Towards a Food Secure Southern Africa 6

But a more consistent message emerged about it remaining out of reach for the poor.

problem And that creating jobs is key to improving people’s access to food…. We shouldn’t blame the food prices; we need to create jobs. Food security is an unemployment issue….. When it comes to quality, one industry player mentioned that we’re relatively well off But again there’s concern about the quality of food the poor can afford. We have good quality food for a developing country. What comes up for me is the quality of food issue: people must know when they are eating junk. They are forced to buy cheap junk, which is essentially very value free and they land up very unhealthy. They’re forced to increasingly give up old forms of good nutrition. How do we make sure that we have quality food that is of value? South Africa is not a poor country, but we still have people who go hungry. A couple of retailers mentioned this as a significant concern The additives issue is based on work we do within the business. All of our permanent staff go through regular tests ….. we realized that our staff were eating rubbish, and the nutritionists said that these foods could be replaced with more healthy ingredients. The people at the bottom of the consumer market are suffering the most ….(on) food quality… for example, tartrazine in concentrates is alive and well in LSM 2-4. You won’t find these in LSM 7-10 …you can (remove tartrazine) and have no impact on the cost… but….as soon as we try to introduce food of a better quality, we lose customers to the independent wholesalers. How do we protect our market share and get these guys to do the right thing? It needs sensible 7

Retailers also spoke about the difficulties and knock on effects of their taking action on quality issues.

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legislation by government. There’s a particular … supplier….a product the emerging market loves….. Our guys went into the factory ..(wanted to) close it down from a hygiene point of view. Its one of the biggest selling lines in (a competitor’s business). So now what do we do? Do we say, well we’re not going to take that product..? So they got an opposition to (shutting it down)…... it’s taken us a year to get him up to standard so that we can now start taking it. And one spoke about the potential downside of the Consumer Protection Act. The whole thing interacts in our lives – in our lives it’s all about price and availability and price is a function of supply and demand, and the food safety issue kills the small guy, which limits our options on supply. We’ve been wanting to produce for export even though it’s not fetching a return.. – at the expense of food crops, fisheries and livestock.. we produce mango, bananas etc. to conform to EuroGAP … to supply European children and let ours eat the mycotoxins in lower standard food…kids in farm villages eat ground nuts with 200ppm of mycotoxins per day. It’s a big hurdle to cross.

A lone voice mentioned the priorities implicit in producing for export and the impact of that on local children’s health.

WELFARE RESPONSES Interviewees gave their views on three types of welfare response: the Food Bank, which distributes surplus food donated by manufacturers and retailers, Social Grants provided by the government, and donor funded food gardening projects.

A few see subsidized support to food gardens offering a good alternative.’s about making a little bit of land available, its teaching the skills, it’s merely giving them a little bit of a start in life whether it’s the seeds whatever it is - get 8

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them involved there. I have seen such passion in the food gardens that we’ve put up, it’s incredible. Home gardeners are using their own land…, that can feed a family of 4 or 5, all year round with all their vegetable requirements. While some are skeptical about the sustainability and impact of food gardens. We see lots of little vegetable gardens but don’t really know what contribution they make to food provisioning, how sustainable they are and whether skills are being transferred. Food gardens are a part of it, but we’ve been relegated there by people’s mentalities in government, and international agencies. Social grants –they leak out of the communities whereas they could be a major source of support for local economies, I mean that transfer of income is massive and it adds to the demand for food. Social grants should be used to reward positive behaviour and funds should be used to acquire resources for productivity. We’re very involved with the food bank and we just think it’s brilliant: they provided a real business solution. We give them all of our obsolete stock to distribute… previously we’d be donating good stock and just destroying all of the old stock. We …can track it to make sure that we’re doing the right thing first. We decided to stop there because we wanted to move away from the mentality of hand out… Bringing waste food back into 9

Others frustrated that gardens aren’t enough.

One commented on the problem of the poor spend their food money with large retailers and not local suppliers.

Another wanted them tied to behaviour change and productivity.

While the Food Bank was loved by one….

And not by another. Towards a Food Secure Southern Africa

feed people, if that’s used as a tool to undermine family farming, that’s a problem – that’s effectively what it is: unconsciously not consciously.

1.1.2 RETAILERS Although retailers have been criticised by a number of interviewees for making too much profit, and affecting local supply chains, they are also faced with a number of constraints highlighted below. The fact that most of South Africa’s big retailers have an increasing and major presence in neighbouring countries imply that these issues are also relevant for the sub-region. SECURING SUPPLY Retailers expressed repeated concern about their ability to secure supplies. We have been asking suppliers of dry groceries for assurances that they have ongoing supply. It is a consistent theme that these manufacturers are finding it easier to import than procure locally. It’s almost become a business requirement. The C.E.O. says, you’ve got to risk, we’re not sure we can actually secure supply. We’ve already experienced problems in our business. (x retailer) wants to create viable black farmers and is pushing government at the highest level. This is a big concern for retailers. Will they maintain their supplies? If you start backing the big horses and the big horses haven’t got, …staple food you’ve got a problem. We obviously try to keep an open channel with the supply markets outside of South Africa supply and meet consumer demand on basic foodstuffs…by constantly looking at new markets and international pricing when it comes to staple foods.

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COLLABORATION NEEDS AND INTERESTS Collaboration is a consistent theme that comes up for retailers when addressing food security. Problem number one is getting all the role players collaborating. It is easy to point fingers at the retailers, they would benefit from a forum where they can discuss the reality. We must reach agreement on where we can collaborate vs. compete…. We are still, to a large extent, trying to go at it alone. And the current Competition Commission activity makes some hesitant… Sadly one of the impacts of the competition investigations is that those retailers that worked together on issues of mutual interest, crime for example, or BEE credentials, are a little reluctant to talk to each other. I attended an event last year ….apparently most of the corporates that were intended to be there at the last minute declined because they felt that the Competition board would see it as collusion. Or they state their competitive boundaries clearly… Operational efficiency is a clear place to work (to improve food prices). But there isn’t a retailer in the country that will collaborate on this issue. It’s our source of competitive advantage. …parts of waste, like crates for bread. At the moment, no one pays deposit for crates, and they go missing all the time. There is an industry that steals these crates and makes hangers, which are sold on the street…. This will surely impact the cost of bread. In my view, the biggest effort needs to be on logistics.

And there are places where people feel it could happen to the benefit of all…waste


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We’re looking at the packaging issue: it’s non-competitive. If you go to Nestle and say your baby formula is hopelessly overpackaged ….It’s a benefit that will be experienced across the supply chain, and it’s to our benefit…. The other area where we think there needs to be better collaboration is in hunger relief efforts. …it’s a disparate focus. We can’t do the pretty stuff that adds cost to the supply chain. They can do that in North America, they can do that in Europe….when it is something that is so important, and it has to increase cost, then regulate….there are areas where we need to be promoting regulation – this was a big aha for us. As a whole, we are a shy organization, partly because we’re modest and partly because you get nailed. We’re business people, and happy to engage in a constructive way. But quite frankly there are some civil society elements that are too radical, they hijack the process and use it for other agendas. (We) want to meet with labour – Cosatu and Solidarity, and the Department of Trade and Industry…in the same room, and (get their) views on food security. Lets agree on a study, and its scope…who should conduct this study…someone we can all have confidence in. We will abide by the outcomes...we criticise each other on the basis of this document. I’ll pay for that study. Who needs to be in that room? If it’s a single-issue initiative, then 12

And philanthropy.

Some acknowledge that collaboration and self-regulation will only get you so far.

Beyond the industry, there is work to be done on building trust.

Although others have appetite to get into the ring…

And another asked for focus. Towards a Food Secure Southern Africa

we would be interested. If we start adding in a whole lot of stuff, then it becomes clumsy and not enough happens.

1.1.2 MANUFACTURERS Most comments about and from manufacturers centred on the power they wield in the system and how that is harnessed – for good or ill. Collusion was a concern for some when considering the manufacturing sector…. Processors – that’s still a highly concentrated market…for example you have a few poultry firms that are breeding and some of them don’t supply parent stock on the open market, some have started and you are restricted to buying day old chicks …the allegation is that they are tying old chicks to the feed…you can’t buy feed on the open market – discounts disappear. It must lie in vertical integration (x manufacturer) produces, buys, got silos, got millers – you’ve got this massive vertical integration chain, who knows what happens in that? …I suspect…as the price of your commodity falls, they are lagging the fall with the actual processed product. There is also a history in that industry of price collusion, bullying and so on. I would venture that perhaps not everything that should have come out has come out yet. But like the retailers, there is willingness to find the places where collaboration can work We need to partner with direct competitors for peas…to say, lets do this together where we have an initiative to grow peas or whatever, or tomatoes …where we have an off take agreement that’s going to satisfy all of our involvements and have one incredible impact. 13

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I think you need to start with creating those links…… - that sense of knowing who is actually in the sector, knowing who’s in the industry, who’s up for the game, who’s willing to partner, who’s has the right set of tools and skills that compliment your needs. “waar kan ons mekaar se hande vat om te voorkom dat elkeen sy eie potjie probeer kook” (where can we join hands so we don’t all just cook our own food)

1.1.3 FARMERS As with poor consumers, farmers are mostly also perceived to be more vulnerable now than in the past. The impression about farming amongst many is that it takes years of hard work for very little return, and relies on generations of knowledge and capital to make farming successful. HARD WORK AND NO MONEY – LESS FARMING HAPPENING The declining numbers of farmers is a serious worry to some interviewees Commercial farmers have come down over the past 15 years from 60 000 to 37 000 and 20% produce 80% of the food. At some point pre-1996 we had about 30,000 dairy farmers now there are 3000 because the price they get for their output is not right. Most have left the industry or substituted dairy for game farming…. Land under cultivation has gone down…. In 1994 we had 60,000 commercial farming units, now we have 45,000 – driven by economies of scale and increasing capital intensity. Farmers are under significant pressure, so even if these well resourced producers cannot make it, how can we expect small producers to make Towards a Food Secure Southern Africa 14

it? Along with its implications for agriculture’s contribution to the economy In the past agriculture was 4% of GDP now it’s down to 2.9% and it will decline more. There is just maintenance investment. There has been no growth in 8 – 9 years. The trends are that we import more each year, even though we are still a net exporter. But exports are growing more slowly than imports. It is not a catastrophe yet. Some noted how farmers were trying to respond… Many farmers are export oriented, not making much profit, struggling because input costs are so high. Land is lying fallow, water is a problem, there is not enough planning we’re not proactive enough. Most farmers are now directly moving to trading with retailers. And one made a surprising suggestion… If we could grow our own, the farmers would be under less pressure. One farmer said to me, if you ran a hug-a-farmer campaign, you would do more good than all these other efforts. Farmers feel unsupported, frightened, it’s a bad place to be. Farmers wouldn’t then chase volume and prices, and farm properly. Youth don’t have an interest in agriculture because the education system has projected agriculture as a career for people without ambition. The youngest people in our village who are farming are 40ish, if anyone younger is going to a farm they’ve been pushed. A lot of people of my age are less interested. We need to address this. Towards a Food Secure Southern Africa 15

Meanwhile older patterns continue to drive a lack of interest in agriculture among the younger black population who many are hoping will step in…

THE MISSING MIDDLE – THE NEED FOR MORE DIVERSITY IN PRODUCTION South Africans involved in food production often work at opposite ends of the agricultural scale: commercial farming at one end and subsistence farming at the other. Donor subsidized subsistence farming overlaps with the food gardening mentioned in the consumer section. The interviews reflected a number of comments and suggestions to encourage different scales of agriculture.

Interviewees shared that there are opportunities to diversify the scale and type of agriculture and increase the proportion of South Africans involved in producing food. Smaller-scale livelihood farming is an important area of innovation.

We must support subsistence farming AND commercial farming, as they both contribute to food security.

My core issue, is that.. small scale micro farming …in the rural and urban context is one of the fundamental cornerstones of a food security strategy, and if that’s not there it’s not a real Food Security strategy, its not human…. A few (have) grown their subsistence farming into large enterprises – if you go to Lichtenburg, you will see on the two sides of the road the two sides of South African agriculture: – white – green fields, etc. On the other side, you’ll see lots that under-utilised but also pockets of large farms that the villagers themselves decided to farm together. (Communities) think sending produce to the market is rocket science, only when we talk to them, do they realize that it’s not. They don’t understand how price changes work. Currently 50-60 out of 3000 that we work with are livelihood farmers, of 3000, we can generate a few hundred in the livelihood level, but the subsistence level itself doesn’t

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have to be denigrated. More recently, significant effort by government and others has been invested in food gardening projects. Interviewees agree that they cannot compensate for declines in commercial agriculture. Since food security is an outcome, food gardens aren’t enough – if a commercial farmer is not producing enough – his workers aren’t earning enough, if the commercial farmer is not producing, there will be no food, period. Our work suggests that the policy response to focus on small production models or selfsufficiency doesn’t work. The ‘starter pack’ approach during the 2008 crisis is nonsense – the most marginalized are not in a position to farm. Not enough is known about the spread of different scales of farming across rural, urban and peri-urban landscapes. In terms of policy .. we see a ‘missing middle’. The Department of Agriculture supports large commercial farmers and the Department of Land Affairs supports land claimants who struggle to farm – but there are a large number of small farmers, about 120,000, especially in periurban areas – that fall between these two groups and who don’t receive support, especially since the collapse of extension services (particularly in former homelands). A lot of small-scale farmers …were left with the land, they don’t know how to work with the finance side, or how to plant, but they really want to become farmers… You don’t start farming from tomorrow there’s a lot of stuff around it… iIf you want to get land and get rich you’re making a mistake. People talk about it but confuse it with commercial. It’s semicommercial, but it’s based on the subsistence lifestyle, this is the version of land based livelihood, 17

Farming ability is also a product of intergenerational knowledge, and making it a sustainable option is a lengthy process.

There are different understandings of smaller-scale farming, so there is a risk that focused effort could be difficult.

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50% subsistence, 50% commercial, plenty of money and an abundance of food. The racial profile of commercial farmers remains skewed. Many interviewees expressed an opinion about issues of legacy and change, and they continue to evoke powerful emotions. If you understand..our.. story after the discovery of mining it was based on destroying black people’s independent economic survival and farming skills and when we are doing our land restitution programmes we are not taking that into account … it is equivalent to recreating a peasantry that was destroyed over a period of a hundred years. And we need more access to markets especially for small farmers because it’s very difficult for them, because we are sitting with very mature markets. As an emerging farmer, my level of farm management is low.., so I default on the loan I got to buy the land from the white farmer, so the land is repossessed and it ends up being sold back to the white farmer, and all that’s happened is the government has spent some money. I think that the agricultural policy of the state has not resulted in the kind of change that was hoped for – …. bringing in new players along the value chain, it’s not that the state has not done anything but leaves the individual players to negotiate on their own. NAFU and Agriculture SA are talking, but no one is representing small black farmers. There are mixed messages in agriculture about cooperatives as a form of increasing efficiencies of scale. The problem is that agriculture needs scale, which is why cooperatives work. But cooperatives are a form of collusion. There is a provision ..that collusion is ok if it benefits 18

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the industry as a whole.

Enterprise Development is a business imperative for some. In the food security domain, enterprise development was most mentioned in the form of emerging farmers (supply side). One retailer made a particular point about growing the emerging farmerbase.

Where is the supply is coming from? Growing the emerging farmer base is important. No one has figured this out. Due to lack of incentives, resources, skills etc. Your psyche in the emerging market community is you’ve got to be part of that community, you need to support that community: so it’s employment. We often …buy off local farmers. So enterprise development has been another very interesting space and that’s been about where as a business can we impact on small enterprises that is aligned to our business and benefits our businesses at the same time can benefit communities. There’s lots of capital flying around but it is all not being pulled together efficiently at the moment, we’re really wracking our brains trying very hard to look at a substantial program to work with emerging farmers. Enterprise development is incompatible with the notion of low-cost production. We need to …be careful that we don’t put too much into one initiative and overcomplicate things. This normally creates a middleman…they frequently don’t pay suppliers on time... they add a mark up. A micro miller can’t produce in the same way as a Tiger Brands can. Just think of the potential if we partnered with other organizations. The critical thing in that space is the Development 19

And others see it as an opportunity to give back.

But there’s a sense that money is not being well spent.

Some interviewees felt strongly that it was not the way to go to address food security.

A few business players mentioned the need to partner, including with public sector agencies and to have the latter focus on this issue. Towards a Food Secure Southern Africa

Bank or other partner work with you.. … they provide .. funds that we don’t have…for setup and startup…access to the community, local municipalities, local NGOs who can actually make these things happen on the ground and then .. the resource to actually put somebody in place to make it happen. Getting emerging farmers going needs to be on the scorecard for Provincial Premiers, how many there are, what value they create – at the moment there is no accountability for results. A retailer highlights the limitations of supporting small-scale farmers. Many of us have found in enterprise development, we don’t have the skills to help people. We’re retailers, and are not farmers or manufacturers. The other thing is actually understanding how communities work…. because there are so many cooks... There are the community councilors, the local municipalities, a local Department of Agriculture or who have a vested interest ..that’s got to clash. One of the biggest lessons is social mobilisation – you cannot move into a big community and go and do things and walk away, there’s a process involved – mobilise them, get their perspective, know their culture and rituals. A number of interviewees spoke about the failure of land reform and the lack of post-settlement plans, and how this failure has destroyed new agricultural enterprises. ….A poor community moves in with no skills, or knowledge .. don’t invest in making the land more productive and you find them squabbling because their expectations are not met, disagreeing about what to do (for example some of them 20

There are many lessons to be learned when engaging in enterprise development from a community engagement point of view.

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harvesting mangos and selling them direct to the public). The land has gone to a community and not a family: there are different agendas. A focus on farming alone is not enough, there also needs to be a focus on enterprise development up the supply chain. To make it work you need to not only think about making the farmers farm, but also about distribution and support measures because if they don’t have that they will farm but they won’t have the income. One of the things we’ve seen is we’re trying to treat the emerging farmers as if they are businesses rather than farmers or growers…we’re find they’re not business people, they’re farmers and sometimes their farming skills are also quite inadequate. A retailer spoke of what it will take to support local suppliers. That local supply hasn’t got the volume and they are not sophisticated enough to supply our supply chain anyway…. There’s such a high standard to enter into that market that the hurdle is quite high. So I want to ..make it easier for them to get into (us). It will take time to change agriculture. We need to build skills. It’s a combination of small margins, hard work and science. And there are still no guarantees. We think we can take people like me from the urban areas, turn them quickly into farming entrepreneurs and they’ll make it. That story for me, has not worked.

1.1.3 FARM WORKERS Farm workers are seen as those with least opportunities and prospects. On the farms people are earning income but there is no skills transfer going on – generations of people are growing up without 21

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skills. When I see a farm worker – being a farm worker is unlucky, you couldn’t be anything else. And while some try to make a difference, their efforts don’t reap much reward. We have a commitment, fundamentally to what we believe we owe the country, to support the development of a transformed food supply chain but we’re getting stuck with all the issues in that sector. We found that this (initiative) was being driven by retailers seeking to launder their supply chain, but the costs and risks of these private regulations were borne by the producers and in the end the farm workers didn’t benefit much due to a resulting increase in casualisation. The trade unionists weren’t able to understand these complexities. And significant immigration issues linger in the background. Illegal labour is a big problem. 4-7 million people are here illegally, and farmers employ them. We need to take a regional approach to this. It’s especially happening with seasonal fruit picking.

1.1.6 INPUT PROVIDERS There was reference to a lot of key inputs as factors, which influence food security. Although accessibility of some inputs was mentioned, the major issue was rising costs. We didn’t speak to suppliers, so the views expressed here come from people further up the chain who feel the impact of its use, one way or another. FERTILISER

Where it was mentioned, fertilizer was seen as a significant problem from a price perspective across the region.

We can’t have inexpensive fertiliser here, despite the fact we make it here. Fertiliser – we realized that there was a cartel – for maize farmers: fertilisers are a major input cost

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per hectare around 60 – 70%. Or from a use perspective We actually make enough fertilizer in this country but we’re importing 60% of demand people are using massive amounts… There is a huge risk of over fertilising and ruining our soil. Half of all fertiliser in Africa is for free …and the large majority of farmers are basically organic because they are not accessing that fertilizer because to get a bag of fertilizer to a farmer in Africa is harder than anywhere else. There is a rock phosphate shortage in the world and no agriculture without it. It’s another hidden resource – only China is concerned about rock phosphate – it is hanging on to its own and mining it elsewhere. Africa is running the deposits down..… the only people who have studied it and know why it is the key to Food Security are the Chinese. And Africa just exports it. They don’t think it has a value – its just given away.

Or from a logistical perspective

And one lone voice raised a concern about rock phosphate,that no one is paying attention to…

SEED None of the seed companies were interviewed, yet the issue of seed, and the impact of GMOs came up GM is a reality One of the issues which we don’t deal with but I think is major, is supply of seed. South Africa produces about 60% GM maize, which is not an issue; you won’t grow horns from it. In South Africa GM has helped, we produce 3 ½ tons per hector compared to Zimbabwe which has the potential to produce 10 tons per hector or Tanzania which is the most fertile place in the world.

And some see benefits

Towards a Food Secure Southern Africa


(re. GM seed) Older people are interested in the quality they see from buying the new seed, in terms of the size of the product and the resistance to a number of diseases. But others don’t think it offers any improvements if you want Food Security among the peasant farming movement, they can’t be reliant on genetically modified or hybridised seeds, which degenerate, can’t be safe, there’s plenty of open pollinated seed that does the same job, produces maybe a bit less but the quality is so superior. If I haven’t got my seed I can’t sow – ask the farmer if he doesn’t want to pay that price for the seed, what are his options? In the 80s and 90s, there were many new hybrids – locally researched. Not anymore, now it is the big multinationals like Monsanto, which is risky as we only account for 1% of their business globally.

While there are concerns about who is in control of seed

TRANSPORT The price of transport was an issue for a few players across the chain, citing the shift from rail to road as a factor. Transporting stuff out of the silos has also got very expensive – 90% of grain was moved by rails in early 1990s, and now its mostly road which is 30% more expensive and it destroys the roads. Rail has the pilferage problem – it’s the cheapest mode of transport but we can’t use it because not a lot of your produce will see the other side. Breakage…they steal from our own trucks while they’re traveling up. It’s not big. Rail will never work, people want Towards a Food Secure Southern Africa 24

But some see problems with a return to rail

to own part of it, they can do that with trucks, not rail. We won’t go for that. While acknowledging the difficulties and costs of using roads… Road infrastructure – we’re not only talking Africa (also in South Africa). If you just take the road between Bloemfontein and Gaborone, a truck can break an axle on it. If you are only looking at the fuel levies – transport is making a huge part 90% of the consumer’s basket, the government is taking a lot of money from this sector via levies. That is adding up to an inefficiency in terms of the sector.

And calling on the government to reconsider its policy on fuel.


For some the water issue is becoming urgent and is part of the impetus for moving into new parts of Africa

In Mpumalanga, the coal-mines are contaminating major agricultural land and rivers. ..It’s going into the food. Quality of water is a problem more than quantity. Agriculture uses 60% of water….The South East and Western Cape are running out of water and with climate change will become even drier. We’ve been saved by the Lesotho Highlands Water Scheme. How can we bring the Zambezi south? Time is critical. We are going to have a massive water supply problem in this country in the next three to five years time... So we have to unlock that potential in SubSaharan Africa.

Others see different actions required.

If you are going to label anything, label water. This is far more of a crisis. There are wine farmers planting bamboo for carbon labeling, when these plants attract rats, suck up water. Waste for example, is a massive

Towards a Food Secure Southern Africa


problem (in polluting). Packaging needs to reduce for water supply.

LAND Some expressed an overall sense that there is less to go around. I’m making people aware of the statistics about loss of productive land. If we are at risk of our land 1. In bad soil management 2. Increasingly in foreign hands, and 3. That land reform processes are not supporting emerging farmers, then we really are creating a crisis. The writing is on the wall. There are huge problems. The government has spent R30 billion, and they paid overinflated prices for land and now can’t afford to deliver. We need to do a land reform audit – who owns what. You’ve got to keep them (government) on side because there are a lot of farms and there are a lot of claims on land. I think if you come to them and make them look good. They perhaps make the land available, you can’t do it without land. I think that’s the critical part. No: school land, municipal land, marginal land, it (small scale farming) doesn’t need land you need to own yourself.

A set of drivers contributes to land risk.

Government is clearly trying to do something, but with unintended consequences.

And a lack of clarity about the situation.

Some are taking clear action so that their needs are met.

Although others don’t see it as being a problem


The demands of the modern cold chain have brought the cost of energy usage into sharp relief

Energy is going to be a huge issue for cold storage dependent businesses. The cost is becoming prohibitive, in the old days farmers didn’t use a lot of electricity – planted 26

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cabbage, put in a truck, take to market – now we’ve got cold chain and it’s got to be washed and chilled – all of a sudden these extra costs in the chain. But some don’t see it as a place with collaboration potential because of competitiveness issues. Just look at energy efficiencies. Clearly our retailers need to manage energy better with increasing costs. However, we will never collaborate there.

1.1.7 GOVERNMENT What is the role of government in securing food? This role is changing, Moreover, many civil society and corporate players express ambivalence about government’s role. Should it, for example, provide more regulation to the food industry or less? This confusion and ambivalence tends to harden the polarity for example, between commercial and small farming. There is a sense among some interviewees that the state has “let go” of its responsibility. The introduction of the Rural Development Department has increased, rather than addressed, confusion about roles and about the connection between those roles I don’t think we have a common voice/purpose/mission as the government institutions whether it be govt funding institutions or the government regulatory institutions and ourselves, we do talk but there’s nothing that has forced us to see each others impact. No one is taking decisions in the Department of Agriculture. Everyone is scared with the new restructuring and the dynamics in the ANC. Certain systems are working, and others aren’t. And the government needs to balance different imperatives. There’s always a tension between industrial policy and competition policy– from an IP perspective we’ll want to support the entrance of (emerging farmers/agents etc) going forward for them to have sufficient economies of scale – we may have to allow them to act anti-competitively. Government in various forms: DTI, BEE commission are continuously working with us ….trying to assist us in any way to really improve our 27

A retailer highlighted that there are some positive and mutually beneficial relationships.

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ability to make a difference in terms of transformation. Next month we’ve got an exciting meeting with senior officials of government around what their idea of a well-managed farm would look like. At the same time, some interviewees report real frustration about accessing their partners in government departments. We don’t get to the right stakeholders in government, we don’t know who they are, we don’t have the resources to invest in building those relationships. The new government departments of rural development and land reform are not coming to the party. When are we going to get an audience? Maize forum has summits, government does not pitch or they send a junior guy who can’t make any decisions. We are part of a ministerial task team that developed a strategic plan for agriculture together with NAFU and business. ……There is still a ministerial task team but we haven’t met, and how are we going to engage on this plan? The quality of communication matters to many players in the field. There is a lack of trust between agriculture and the government. Farmers decide its better to focus on the export market than to focus on the local market. We need a more engaging environment. If government wants to ensure citizens don’t get a raw deal, then government needs to engage with the industry players. You are not going to achieve anything by investigation and talking about it in the press. The Competition Commission has created a lot of fear. People are reluctant to talk to each other. It’s Towards a Food Secure Southern Africa 28

There is also a view that it’s more effective to create a conducive environment to talk and work together.

a costly exercise for us, we need lawyers present at all of our meetings. This stifles creativity and innovation. While there are complaints about declining investment in infrastructure or a lack of extension services – there is also a plea for a better funded, more integrated and aligned government approach. The Department of Agriculture (food security) is trans-disciplinary but other politicians don’t see that, so we are relegated to doing food gardens. Government is not investing adequately in agriculture in general – big or small. Including a return to subsidies We are concerned that there doesn’t seem to be as much support for agriculture as there once was. There used to be more generalist subsidies. A lot of white farmers were established by subsidies that were provided by the Nationalist government, that’s what the government needs to do. I would like to see lots more money flowing from government to farmers in form of subsidies. Some kind of revolving funding for conversion. More extension services for farmers, and enforcement. A ton of green scorpions making sure the practices are changing. There were a few comments about the need for a more systemic overview to be held by government. We didn’t have an agency that … was about having a systemic view about this economy, the Planning Commission, the Economic Development ministry are new opportunities. The National Planning Commission needs to manage this problem from the top, as there are so many interconnected issues to address. There are strong opinions about what government should do, especially on the subject of regulation. Towards a Food Secure Southern Africa Government needs to create an enabling environment, regulate the sector and provide 29

infrastructure. Until you raise the benchmark with better regulatory standards, you are going to continue to get people who distribute food, which they shouldn’t be distributing. Either regulate everything or nothing; you can’t regulate half the distribution chain and not the other half. There is cause for judicious state regulation. Private regulation isn’t really working– the effective implementation of existing national legislation would probably go further. There is a need to investigate collusion across the supply chain, and not only within sectors. I think the inquiries of the Competition Commission are ill advised, because they need to ….look at a particular product in whole supply chain…. The Consumer Protection Act is an act which is advancing consumer rights... I think it’s a beautiful piece of legislation.... The government would prefer the industry to selfregulate on this issue. They will form a consumer commission where consumers can complain. But..would not have the capacity to take care of this. We have some of the best food laws in the world, but our capacity to regulate is limited. For one, this comes down to Government leaving the sector to it… Government sees us as a sector that looks after itself.

New legislation is positive, but capacity to implement is a problem.

1.1.8 ACADEMIA Voices from different parts of the system wanted a reversal of the trend of declining investment in research related to food, and agriculture in particular. Food is a sensitive issue and is often political, it needs to be driven more by academic research. If I were minister of agriculture I 30

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would put more focus on research. I’m worried about (the lack of) science and research and bringing in new technology. Some acknowledged that deregulation has led to under- or skewed investment. There’s been an accumulation of skill and knowledge through the years, and then the research support through the infrastructure but that has been curtailed because you thought that with deregulation that things like R and D would be done by the firms and that’s not happening. …the rift between agricultural people and NGOs /academics….the gulf that exists is not because there isn’t transparency, but there isn’t communication Academics like to do the research and don’t engage with business. Everyone uses his or her own backyard researchers. You are not entitled to your own facts, but you are entitled to your own opinion. We’d need a good academicoriented R and D teams to document everything (about this process), like put it into a full curriculum. We need to have academic and scientific peer review …then people will start to take it (this project) seriously. We should use university students more, to do research on questions around Food Security – we (business) are not geared to (or rewarded by shareholders for) doing research.

Although one or two noted that academics and business don’t always communicate enough…

And that research has been used in unhelpful ways at times.

Others focused more on their own organizational needs for research support

It’s clear that, with such a broad range of players who contribute in some way to food security, collaboration and collective action will require significant effort. The interests vary, and the perspectives are often at opposite ends of the spectrum. The positive impulse is that everyone without fail has recognized that food insecurity is on the rise in Towards a Food Secure Southern Africa 31

Southern Africa, and that each player has a role to play in reversing this trend.

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1.2. THE CURRENT FOOD SYSTEM, STRAINED AND STRETCHED Those who considered the system as a whole, noticed significant imbalances. They commented on the consumers and farmers sitting towards the ends of the chain, were least powerful overall and ‘price takers’ relative to the concentrated business sectors in the system. There were also concerns about the social, economic and environmental implications of deregulation and current patterns of economic activity and planning. The system that works well is designed to meet middle class needs. When you work with big businesses, they have growing plans of 3 to 5 years. that feeds the average Mrs. Constantia, Mrs. Benmore and that’s what happens. The dynamic we haven’t grasped is the divide between the formal and the informal. A few felt that the process of deregulation undertaken a decade ago was not well thought through and we are paying the price for that now. I think for the first 10 years of this economy we were obsessed with following global rules. (about deregulation/subsidies etc.) Of course, in the last 10 years, the food market has undergone tremendous change and most of it was market led – the government just said, leave it to the markets. But I think there have been certain things that could have been handled better. The take away for me in food (and telecoms) is that unless you have a strong regulator the outcomes that you are looking for, may not necessarily emerge. We’ve replaced a government monopoly with an oligopoly as have with telecoms. I’m feeling that we had blind faith and we didn’t do our homework and understand the nature of the agricultural markets before we deregulated. But after deregulation there was not enough supervision, regulation, enough facilitative role of the state to improve food security and to create a fairly egalitarian society. Deregulation went ahead in an ad hoc manner without food security Towards a Food Secure Southern Africa 33

considerations. Since deregulation, more power has concentrated with large players in the chain. And there is insufficient competition to make that work well. The bigger players have replaced government as the regulator in the way that they utilise their power. The concept of competition is not working. We need to create more competition. Because there are 4 retailers, people don’t have much of a choice. For a population of 45m people we only have one (dedicated) national fruit and vegetable retailer – that only happens in this country, we must have more retailers – we need more competent businessmen, there is no competition at all. On the distribution, some of retailers are making a huge amount of money. (In Khayelitsha) The philosophy (of a retailer) was to ‘hoover the money out of the townships’. And the production end We know on the input side that the market is highly concentrated, whether you’re talking about seed or about fertiliser – Monsanto and a few others control seed. A lot of the big farms, big volume market. It’s all controlled by big business. They’ve got their big farmers that are farming for them. Fruit and Veg City maybe buy off the market. The farmers have got to go and plan that works to their needs. Without a strong facilitator – local government or some state agent, an individual farmer doesn’t have negotiating power vis a vis a Woolworths for example, and food is going through those chains. Towards a Food Secure South Africa 34

On the consumption end

This leaves the farmers in a relatively weak position.

If you were sending the farmer a message of price, then the farmer is getting a message of volume at any cost. This is detrimental to environmental and social issues. I don’t think we have anything resembling a perfectly competitive market in this economy, in the agricultural value chain it’s mostly the farmers that are price takers, they don’t have much power. We don’t have perfect competition from the input side upwards. Now fertilizer companies have come into the vacuum (of a collapsed state extension service) with their own extension staff and built relationships with farmers. The farmer is squeezed between the input suppliers and the buyers. It is difficult for farmers, government used to give them a good price. Now he has had to become a businessman. Some from the business sector acknowledged that they need to be more conscious of the responsibility that comes with power. We have a strong influence in the supply chain because we go right back to the grower, we’re involved along the line, but we don’t take it on. As a result there is a willingness to work with us and unfortunately we don’t always take it on. In order to ensure that the Change Lab is not captured by the powerful players [retailers] you will need to make sure that the voice of the powerless is included; you will need to have information on how the industry works. This is an imperfect market – from a demand side – 20% of the population is fully active in the economy and supporting the rest so that’s bound to skew consumer power so the consumer is fairly 35

While others offered advice on redressing the imbalance in the Change Lab.

The lack of consumer power is grounded in levels of economic activity.

Towards a Food Secure South Africa

weak relative to retailers. We are sitting on a time bomb where 4-5m people are subsidizing all the rest, we are creating a community that is living off social grants because there are no opportunities. People want jobs but there’s nowhere to look. The consumer is quiet. Research shows that the label came first (when retailers think about improving standards) and the consumer came after. And the dependency on big business value chains impacts poor communities. The people who are living in townships or who live in the more rural (areas). I’m not sure that there’s a self-sufficiency culture there. I think they are too dependent on the value chains of big business. If you don’t have a supply chain of food that is locally driven it leaks out of the communities back to the formal sector or to formal retail – they’ve moved big time to the townships and rural communities are worse off because they have to use that money to travel to town and buy food – but if you were to promote local production they could use that money there. The retailers contributed to the deagrarianisation of these areas as they were able to provide products for cheap without the risk associated with production, due to economies of scale, etc…They also generally did not source many products locally. This process had pros and cons. It was beneficial for pensioners, due to access to cheaper products, but bad for the local economy, due to demise of local production and rents being exported. …and urban Towards a Food Secure South Africa Ironically the rural market eats 36


more sustainably. It’s much more in the urban environment. There’s going to be all kinds of threats ….oil peak, rising oil prices, water resources, nutrient flows, food supplies, basic materials etc, and so their argument is … this is becoming a really major issue is the kind of resource flows into cities…..I can’t really see a future for cities if they are dependent on long distance value chains… the future of cities is going to be more and more dependent on urban agriculture. While government policy and focus reflect the divides. Most often rural areas are not seen as a site of development in and of itself but as a supplier of food to the urban areas, so ..we’re just extracting the rents from the rural areas to support very big urban populations and we don’t have a model of developing the rural areas. They’re (Department of Rural Development) still seeing development as agriculturally based – why not set up processing plants, why not look at the economy around it…– if they can grasp that concept it will take off. I don’t think they do right now. The country consists of Johannesburg and the ports: that [perception is] the problem and if you are looking at the DTI they’ve sunk a lot of money basically reinforcing that pattern. The Department of Agriculture’s role with the commercial sector – it’s about permits, collecting information, creating reports, transport etc. Subsistence and smallholder farmers are at the forefront for Department of Agriculture – that reflects the dualistic nature of the sector. Towards a Food Secure South Africa 37

1.3 THE CURRENT FOOD SYSTEM, SEEDS OF CHANGE Within the food security system in Southern Africa, interviewees highlighted a number of innovative solutions already up and running to help reduce food insecurity outside of their normal business practice. There is a sense from many that if some of these ideas were shared or brought to scale, the problem could be more significantly addressed. Economic Development Initiative successes linking farmers to supply chains We’ve had some success in the KZN area, with supporting a co-op of women farmers, amadumbies … in the Beaufort West areas – hydroponics growing of herbs and spinach, getting emerging farmers into our supply chain. Post-settlement support project in the Brits area is working... They have started giving loans to 12-15 farmers of R400 000, and that amount has moved to R90million, involving thousands of farmers. Wool farmers are doing well to establish black commercial farmers. There are attempts, for example in the Eastern Cape –ASGISA EC, trying to support local farmers, even vineyards in the Western Cape, there are some successes. And so I’ve seen some of those in maize farming, sunflower..there’s also some success with Motswenyane) who’s supplying Pick n Pay with oranges for their juice .. Would I consider the Paprika story a success story? Yes, it’s survived a year, it has successfully produced 68 days of paprika for us. It’s provided employment for 218 people in a community that didn’t have much employment at all. Commercial farmers willing to help In the areas where we’ve got involved there is huge willingness to help (from commercial farmers) but it’s uncoordinated. ..we had a wonderful experience in 38

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Limpopo expecting farmers to be locked in their ways and them really coming forward. Farmers want to help, but want to know how. Knowledge bases for market linkages We have the market economic research centre – we have a specific focus area on linking farmers to markets, there’s a lot of research done. Soil quality is not a problem – we’ve got the technical solutions – I can turn a wasteland into a lush little garden – we’ve got technology, knowledge, doing it cheaply, it’s all there. Muyexe, Limpopo. We are seeing communities planting. In the Eastern Cape they have Siyazondla – household garden programme... Jacobsdaal in the Free State has veggie tunnels. It’s small but it’s happening. A lot has happened in the last 2 years. The farmers themselves also with some professional support run the pack shed, run the whole operation. We employ some of the farmers as field workers and trainers to run the system, so in effect we’re a voluntary cooperative, we’ve created our own market at mostly school communities. There are already pockets around Port St Johns where people are running livelihood level farms, and cash, because they are smart enough to have taken on the discipline of commercial mixed in with subsistence, you don’t need new land for that. People and places where more environmentally sustainable possibilities are being explored successfully. ZZ2 is a good example of a company that has the intellectual and financial resources to go beyond retarded collapse to 39

And for improving soil…

Some places where interviewees felt work with small farmers was paying off.

Towards a Food Secure South Africa

restoration – restoring the means to sustain their own business but an ecosystem when you restore it, it goes beyond the boundaries. ETH Swiss university is already manufacturing fertilizer from sewage – exporting it – transforming urine – that’s where the nutrients are – not in the feces. We’ve got potato project in the Sandveld. Its funded by Potatoes SA, they are trying to implement better farming practices, so now they are having first crop sustainable potatoes – farmers have voluntarily done. The irrigation of potatoes is enormous, and influenced the fresh water supply in local communities. Retailers are already working in some of the areas they identified as having potential – food safety, quality and packaging. We have a food safety initiative. We collaborate around how to make things easier for all our members to benefit. For example, we are starting a project where we create a big database to audit/test the food. We now have a new strategy called ‘market of the future’ following industry trends globally – to improve food quality and safety and to improve the environment at our premises. For our packaging we have a partnership with NAMPAK – recyclers are formally employed to collect and take it to their facility on the premises where they collect each day. ..1% of our produce goes to waste. And some businesses are picking up on the international trend towards local food. We have a strong focus in the foods area to do more regional sourcing. The model with one supplier, and distribute all around the country, we’re beginning to say that’s not the most efficient, but that’s in its infancy, the 40

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regionalization of supply. We are driving a local sustainable sourcing thing, probably more from a B.E.E. perspective than from a food security perspective. And finally some innovation at the distribution end We are trying to develop a project to deliver hampers to corporate employees to support a healthy lifestyle – 5 a day. Warwick Junction – amazing creating initiative, under threat, by the Durban city, to build an infrastructure in middle of the city to sell food to people –– next to the station – now they want to put a mall up – yet where it is what makes it interesting – the city and local operators who have collaborated to make it happen – sourcing food on daily basis to feed the working class! Where is that food coming from?

Towards a Food Secure South Africa


2. THE WAY FORWARD When looking into the future, interviewees expressed different approaches to changing the system of food security. There were proposals that involvede changing paradigms – radically rethinking how the system could and should operate and others that tinkered with the existing reality to a greater or lesser extent. Some people tended more to one camp or the other, and some spoke of both. The purpose of highlighting these two paths is not to choose either/or when deciding what to focus on, but rather to recognize that they exist strongly as possibilities for people in the food security system, and need to be worked with at the same time across the initiatives participants of the future change lab would want to pioneer.

2.1 PLACES AND SPACES OF POSSIBILITY Many interviewees talked about places that they thought were interesting to consider for future action to support better food security. Some interviewees wanted to see a more deliberative and interactive relationship between research and practice. Maybe we need to commission some masters and PhD students to put together great big operations research, modeling of alternatives – triple bottom line. What we can do is to aggregate the knowledge we’re getting back to the relevant departments for example, what happened with the fisheries policy. .. including academics and private sectors, people who run the wholesale markets, who have a sense of procurement and flows, and also have in the room the ecologists, people who have a sense of soils and ecosystem services and environment and stitch together understanding of existing flows, what are alternatives, what are the intervention points. Including spreading models through academic institutions. It (model of livelihood farming) could almost be franchised, it needs a bit more academic level support to break it into bits and set it up so it can be like a tick box system – do that, that will happen, so it could be picked up like that 42

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and replicated in cities all around SA, from an urban point of view, wherever there are people with money to buy fresh natural grown vegetables, there’ll be the potential to set up the whole system including the marketing end in the urban areas. Improved collaboration is necessary and desirable and some feel strongly that this needs to be defined carefully in terms of specific issue areas and opportunities. Not long ago, government was looking at opening government shops. Rather lets do something jointly and utilize existing infrastructure, it’s a better use or resources. We know what a basket looks like for poor people. Lets take some stuff out, and put it to a tender process. What is government maize? I’m not sure what the mechanism is. All the retailers have it, and in areas where there is maximum food insecurity, lets price these together. We need to achieve scale by giving one or 2 manufacturers an opportunity to reach massive scale. We need a 3rd party like government to allocate the tender. Improving payment conditions for enterprise development There are other ways we can help in transformation. The easiest way for retailers is better terms for black suppliers. They battle with cash flow. So pay them on invoice, which is not a difficult thing to do. It’s far more helpful in terms of transforming the economy. This is a lever in the supply chain where we can cut costs. There are cheaper alternatives. That is in everyone’s interests. Its in the environmentalists interests, its in the retailers interests – better logistics, its in the consumers interests because they are getting a cheaper price. We want to improve health benefits. Move away from cheap 43

Packaging came up a few times, and there are clear ideas which reduce price of packaging, and ultimately the food.

A drive to improve nutrition and labeling.

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and nasty additives….This is a place we could make an impact. This will be an impact on private labels we create which have less packaging, are healthier, and where that’s evident to people because of labeling. New food baskets – focusing on a particular group of foods in a particular area. The whole idea is that you can’t eat pap alone – you need to identify within the locale what can be eaten with it so that pap consumption can keep going up. We need to think about what could be the selling point for them (industry players), the most interesting areas. In coastal areas there could be a project around snoek – engage the wheat people – they need to eat fish and bread together but they also need fruit and greens – there can be some way of adding things for a nutritious food basket and to increase understanding. Bringing urban agriculture and rural processing solutions more to the fore for regionally based food systems. The model of the last 200 years is under strain – based on centralised production in certain areas – moving goods over long distances – I think we need to experiment with urban food gardens, and that’s not something I think is on anyone’s agenda. We need to elevate urban agriculture to a higher status shorten the supply chain. The status is that urban people don’t want to eat out of their garden. We need to get to a point where your status is not defined by car in the driveway, but NO car in the driveway. Creating economic development in rural areas. How can we develop the rural areas as viable economic entities and not just as suppliers of raw materials – and putting some low scale processing there as well?

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A couple of suggestions focused on the need to reconsider co-operative approaches to increase the bargaining power of farmers.

They are looking at other agricultural initiatives in the Eastern Cape as well so that they would be part of many, they’re looking at co-operative parties… they’re very reliant on corporates to help them with this. They very much on the mindset that you can’t just go and grow paprika, you actually need your market first. Farmers can sell together and buy some inputs together.

As well as creating alternative supply chains to support them

The Food Bank could help create some co-ordination for example, take 5 farms, and look at what could be done to collaborate to make things happen on a larger scale. There’s a way of supporting local farmers. You buy the product upfront, and for the rest of the season, you get that farmer’s crop. This system is not going to supply the retailers. We are trying to encourage people to shorten the supply chain. Get to know the farmer. You are investing directly and reaping the rewards.

Ideas to make farming more environmentally sustainably

So ZZ2 should own all the sewage plants …There’s an added income – we can’t run it (sewage systems) from the tax base anymore. They (should go) into the water and energy business – nutrients out, sell water back to municipality – closing the loop. developing sustainable farming manuals. ….Now the food industry wants to do this. They are to house all regulation in one sustainable farm manual. Now we are starting the same process with the diary industry.

Finally a few suggestions thought education was needed, to raise emerging business awareness of the Towards a Food Secure South Africa

To demonstrate that people eat every day and that this sector is where the money is: last year 45

opportunities in the sector.

people talked about a recession but we didn’t see it here, we had record sales. We are trying to make the youth more aware so that they’ll be interested and the information will trickle down. Where we used to produce food, we aren’t any more – that goes back to education, if you put those people back on those farms to start producing then that’s the one king pin. The technical solutions are not the problem ….actually it comes down to basic good husbandry it’s just reconnecting to that with a new consciousness.

To get more people back into farming

And to doing it well.

2.2 PARADIGM SHIFT - FOOD ECONOMY/FOOD COMMUNITY For some, a fundamental change in the way we interact with food seems necessary. For them we have become too disconnected from how it gets produced and from understanding the earth’s resources that enable us to eat. They want to see us eating different foods, buying food in different ways and going back to basics to produce.

A few interviewees talked about change needed at the cultural level to make more significant shifts that they saw were needed for the food system to get back on track – although they knew these ideas were not the mainstream. Their thinking implied changes in the food economy too.

I think companies embedded in that value chain have a big shock coming with serious battles. The alternative to that is the local food movement which is the private sector – smaller businesses, local enterprises, local farms, farming businesses, local food markets, local supermarkets a whole …reestablishment of a food community – not just a food economy. …a mind shift in all of us to eat less meat and to be more discerning about the meat less meal. In SA, this is a political statement – we can’t tell people they can’t eat meat now that there is a more affluent black community. To have people be more discerning about

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buying food, understanding hidden costs. For us to be less of a high-consumption society, and have more integrity. One voice drew attention to the international food system’s focus on a few staple crops and challenged the system to pay more attention to local resources Traditional diets are very rich. It is painful to see how they have been pushed out of the plates of people who need them. Now they’re being revered by the North – pomegranate, amarula! This isn’t special, I grew up eating it. As soon as the North discovers the value they have an extractive mentality and take it away from people, make it expensive. The food crisis was artificial – because we’re focusing on three crops – maize, rice and wheat (and perhaps potatoes). Those countries without those crops as primary sources didn’t have a food crisis – like Uganda and Brazil. They have diversified diets and can stand on their own two feet in the midst of a crisis. .. Maize will destroy the environment, it mines the soil – and isn’t fixing any (nutrients)– but people believe that no maize equals no food. Issues of environmental sustainability were embedded in the thinking (We need to stop) ignoring the soil, the earth, earth as a living system. Biodiversity keeps agriculture in tact – why can’t everyone see this? The Davos perspective is how do you minimize damage – you don’t reach sustainability by minimizing damage you just have retarded collapse. That is not sustainability. This model of big centralised production units is no longer ecologically sustainable it requires substantial use of pesticides, fertiliser – our fossil fuel civilisation is under strain.

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One talked about being willing to consider GM thinking if it weren’t for power dynamics.

The GM science per se if it wasn’t constructing knowledge for large scale corporate profit might be quite useful if the science could be generalized out and liberated from the IP regime, but that is a heretical thing to say. But I think we can’t just write off the science because it is embedded in problematic power structure but how we do that – so the science, you have to be suspect of it because of what it is embedded in. I can see that scientists are blinded by their need to protect. It is very hard for them to see the economic imperative. Farmers see us as “mean greenies”. We would almost sideline food security (people see it as intensifying, GM etc), by bringing in biomanagement. Conservation has a legacy to deal with that they have the answers – arrogance. We’ve become so reliant on that formal supply chain to produce everything for us. We’ve removed ourselves off the land and our responsibility sometimes is to look after ourselves. And (we) can. The paradigms in agriculture are religious - no actual real scientific debate – no debate across them. We are up against some serious money and serious power in Africa.

And one voice notices how unhelpful strong positions can be – in this instance relating to Conservation Agriculture.

While the current systems’ impact on people’s connection to the earth and their self-reliance was picked up

While the size and shape of the challenge to making shifts of this kind was acknowledged

2.3 THE VALUE CHAIN APPROACH – IN THE MEANTIME A range of actors in the system, some sympathetic to the need for paradigm change, prefer to focus their attention on making changes that will see immediate impact in current systems, and they offer a range of alternative approaches to doing so. Current reality leads some to the conclusion that focusing on economic Towards a Food Secure South Africa Need to become an economic power-house (in SADC), and 48

growth remains imperative.

refocus. Or else we are going to run out of resources…. (a colleague) did a project in which all value chain players reduced profit by 1% and passed this down to the producer, and that gave rise to a decent premium. But the key thing is how risks and costs are distributed in the value chain. We also want to support value chains developing beyond the four retailers. Competition law has limited reach. There are other options, e.g. using land use regulations in terms of location and size of supermarkets. The support that can be given can open up new channels of food supply especially in the rural areas and if you have multiple food supply chains you can put competitive pressure even on the formal market…. Apparently 40% livestock is circulating in the informal sector– so wouldn’t the state support those people in terms of quality and with the skills to raise that livestock. Already that’s a channel that exists and isn’t being supported – don’t to try to just link it to the formal sector network, because the dynamics of the formal sector are quite different in terms of demands for quality but also the formal sector is ruthless in its negotiating power.

In that light, do we reform what is already there? This statement suggests that claims of too narrow margins in the chain might not always be true.

Create and support alternative chains?

Make incremental change to farming to make it more sustainable?

Organic farming can’t save the world. Its very high tech, and there are many risks and threats. A better approach is conservation agriculture, which combines elements of organic and industrial agriculture and is internationally recognized. For example, the litres of water used in maize production have come down from 100 litres per sq. m, to 60. 49

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Introduce new players into existing chains?

The black market agencies have only just been created and they aren’t yet able to break into the market they visit white farmers and say ‘let us sell your produce’ but people have long term relationships and don’t want to change – the produce is the property of the farmer until it is sold. So we need transformation across the system to be effective – we need more emerging farmers. The longer the chain, the bigger the potential for pitfalls. Your international investors are very bullish on Africa because we’ve got this massive energy resource lying underneath, because mineral wealth is lying underneath, because one of the biggest breadbaskets in the world is lying underneath. If you want to buy into the future it’s a good place to invest. In SA we are running out of resources, we will battle to sustain 50 million people. We need to go into the tropical spaces, but the problem is so is China. Farmers will look after their resources, but what about the macro resources? Hopefully over the years we’ll gather more speed as there’s more focus on SADC which I think there is, but there’s a lot of opportunity for us to do business with Africa, develop those markets, get raw product here, process here to improve food security for South Africa.

Shorten value chains?

Or move them up into Africa?

But others see further into the future and ask about where it’s all going…

In Africa we have a very serious problem and it boils down to…the growth in yields is declining over last 20/30 years …there is…abandonment of soils …. increasing productivity per 50

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hectare, and the opening up of new soils. As people move on to new virgin land they are more productive per hectare probably, it’s a bit more expensive land, not such good land…but you can only just imagine that there’s a limit to that, to new, and at what point do you hit that limit and what will happen then?

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3. CONCLUSION: WE MAKE THE PATH BY WALKING IT 3.1 FINDING PLACES TO LEVERAGE MEANINGFUL CHANGE The process of interviewing a series of key players in the sector has revealed an appetite for focused collaboration and a shared awareness of the urgency of taking action. This report reveals specific areas where people have energy to tackle something that’s getting in their way, or to spread an idea that is working already, for example. Given the level and involvement of the interviewees and the stakeholders who have already been involved in this process. Collectively, the stakeholders who have engaged in this process so far, have the influence to take what has been talked about and start turning it into action on the ground. To sustain the process and expand its reach, these action leaders must also work together to mobilize more senior leaders in government, business and civil society to champion the cause of collective transformative change toward a food system that works for everyone.

3.2 PHASE 2: SEEING MORE OF THE SYSTEM The evidence from within the system seems to point toward the lack of voice on the part of both farmers and consumers. From a systems perspective, their views and voices must now move to the centre of this process and be combined with the perspectives alredy on the table. In this way, the system can begin to see itself as a whole, and make better choices that will move us towards a more food secure future. With that in mind, the next phase of the project will consist of Learning Journeys in which stakeholders will get the chance to see and understand the system from these perspectives. Learning Journeys will focus on two questions: • • How do people feed themselves? o Looking at the system from the perspective of the consumer. What is it like to be a farmer? o Looking at it from farmers’ point of view.

Stakeholders will have the opportunity to share this experience with other players along the chain, thus expanding and deepening relationships and broadening their awareness of what it is like to see the realities of food security from multiple perspectives. After the Learning Journey’s are complete, there will be one or more debriefing sessions for stakeholders who were unable to participate in the Journeys themselves. 3.3 PHASE 3: TAKING ACTION Based on the experience in learning journeys, participants will have a range of options for taking the process forward. They might engage more deeply in a joint initiative to explore specific issues in greater depth; team up with one or two other stakeholders to pursue a particular problem; or apply what they have learned independently in their ongoing work. The intention here is that the process would follow the needs and interests of the players in the system. The design of the project is therefore being kept as flexible as possible to enable each one of us to have the impact in the system that we can and want to have. Towards a Food Secure South Africa 52