Corporate Concentration and Food Security in South Africa: Is the Commercial Agro-Food system Delivering?

"Although the current agro-food system in South Africa has the technical and organisational capacity to meet domestic food needs, there are major problems with access to food and with the nutrient content of existing food supplies. The agro-food system is a product of apartheid and, as such, has social inequities built into it. This paper looks briefly at the main points of inequity and reflects on various attempts and proposals to alter the system to reduce social inequity. The South African agro-food system is built on Green Revolution production technologies and industrial systems of manufacturing and distribution. The Green Revolution relies on a package of technologies including ‘improved’ and hybrid seed, synthetic fertiliser, irrigation, consolidation of land, credit and increased access to formal markets. In some places in South Africa, this agrofood system is reaching ecological limits (e.g. global temperature limitations related to climate change, soil damage and degradation without an alternative nutrient source, and shortages of non-salt water) that contribute to wider ecological crises, and it may begin to pose a threat to the long-term sustainability of the food supply. The challenge facing regulators, governors and policymakers is how to formulate and implement a transformation process that can lead to a socially just and ecologically sustainable system, while minimising disruption to the food supply."