Export file:


  • RIS(for EndNote,Reference Manager,ProCite)
  • BibTex
  • Text


  • Citation Only
  • Citation and Abstract

Towards assuring food security in South Africa: Smallholder farmers as drivers

Department of Agricultural Economics and Animal Production, University of Limpopo, South Africa.

Smallholder agricultural sector in South Africa is regarded as one of the main livelihood options for the majority of people living in rural areas. As such, many of the poorest people living in rural areas regard smallholder subsistence agriculture as an important strategy to move out of food poverty and malnutrition. Food security has since been the goal that needs to be achieved by every nation given the agricultural sector reason to be productive enough to meet the food demand of each nation. The purpose of this paper is to provide information on the role and potential of smallholder farmers as being the drivers of achieving food security in South Africa. The paper identifies key references backing up this claim and suggests some recommendations which could help improve the synergy between food security and productivity of smallholder farmers in South Africa.
  Article Metrics

Keywords driver; food security; livelihood; smallholder farmers; South Africa; wellbeing

Citation: Isaac Busayo Oluwatayo. Towards assuring food security in South Africa: Smallholder farmers as drivers. AIMS Agriculture and Food, 2019, 4(2): 485-500. doi: 10.3934/agrfood.2019.2.485


  • 1. Food and Agriculture Organisation-FAO (2017) The state of food and agriculture: Leveraging food systems for inclusive rural transformation. FAO, Rome, Italy, 181.
  • 2. Schanbacher WB (2010) The politics of food: The global conflict between food security and food sovereignty. Santa Barbara: Praeger Security International, 148.
  • 3. Food and Agriculture Organization-FAO (2004) The state of food insecurity in the world: Monitoring progress towards the world food summit and Millennium Development Goals. Rome, Italy, 43.
  • 4. Scheepers C (2010) Ethnicity, cultural diversity and poverty in South Africa: Archaeological perspectives from iron age palestine, Ethnicity Poverty OTE 23: 161–177.
  • 5. DAFF (2012) Integrated growth and development plan. Pretoria: Directorate communication services national department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries.
  • 6. Sinyolo S, Mudhara M (2018) Farmer groups and inorganic fertiliser use among smallholders in rural South Africa. S Afri J Sci 114: 1–9.
  • 7. Machethe CL (2004) Agriculture and poverty in South Africa: Can agriculture reduce poverty. Paper presented at the Overcoming Underdevelopment Conference held in Pretoria, 28–29 October, 14.
  • 8. Mudhara M (2010) Smallholder subsistence agriculture in South Africa: A diagnosis of bottlenecks and public policy options. Conference paper presented at "Overcoming inequality and structural poverty in South Africa: Towards inclusive growth and development", Johannesburg, 20–22 September.
  • 9. Chisasa J, Makina D (2012) Trends in credit to smallholder subsistence farmers in South Africa. Int Bus Econ Res J 11: 771–784.
  • 10. Aliber M, Hart TGB (2009) Should subsistence agriculture be supported as a strategy to address rural food insecurity? Agrekon 48: 434–458.    
  • 11. Tscharntke T, Clough Y, Wanger TC, et al. (2012) Global food security, biodiversity conservation and the future of agricultural intensification. Biol Conser 151: 53–59.    
  • 12. HLPE (2013) Biofuels and food security. A report by the High-Level panel of experts on food security and nutrition of the committee on world food security, Rome,132.
  • 13. Sabo BB, Isah SD, Chamo AM, et al. (2018) Role of smallholder farmers in Nigeria's food security. Scholarly J Agric Sci 7: 1–5.
  • 14. FFSSA (2004) Achieving food security in Southern Africa: Policy issues and options, FFSSA synthesis paper, forum for food security in Southern Africa, Available from: http://www.odi.org.uk/food-security-forum, 109.
  • 15. Department for International Development-DFID (2004) Agriculture, hunger and food security. London: Department for International Development.
  • 16. Lyne MC, Hendricks SL, Chitja JM (2009) Agricultural growth and food security. In: Hendricks SL, Lyne MC, Eds, Does Food Security Improve When Smallholders Access a Niche Market? Lessons from the Embo Community in South Africa. The African Centre for food security, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, ISBN: 978-186840-687-6.
  • 17. Oni SA, Maliwichi LL, Obadire OS (2011) Assessing the contribution of smallholderirrigation to household food security, in comparison to dry-land farming in Vhembe District of Limpopo Province, South Africa. Afr J Agric Res 6: 2188–2197.
  • 18. Baiphethi MN, Jacobs PT (2009) The contribution of subsistence farming to food security in South Africa. Agrekon 48: 459–482.    
  • 19. Millennium Project Hunger Task Force-MPHTF (2004) Halving hunger by 2015: A framework for action. The interim report, Millennium Project, 15.
  • 20. Fenyes T, Meyer N (2003) Structure and production in South African agriculture. In: Nieuwoudt L, Groenewald J, Eds., Agriculture in the National Economy. Pietermaritzburg, University of Natal Press, 21–45.
  • 21. Aliber M (2005) Synthesis of the 2005 Development Report: Overcoming underdevelopment in South Africa's second economy. Pretoria: Human Sciences Research Council, 16.
  • 22. Averbeke W, Khosa TB (2007) The contribution of smallholder subsistence agriculture to the nutrition of rural households in a semi-arid environment in South Africa. Water S Afr 33: 413–418.
  • 23. Hendriks S (2014) Food security in South Africa: Status quo and policy imperatives. Agrekon 53: 1–24.
  • 24. Love D, Twomlow S, Mupangwa W, et al. (2006) Implementing the millennium development food security goals-challanges of the Southern African context. Phys Chem Earth 31: 731–737.    
  • 25. Kirsten JF, Van Zyl J (1998) Defining small-scale farmers in the South African Context. Agrekon 37: 551–562.    
  • 26. Magingxa LL, Alemu ZG, Van Schalkwyk HD (2009) Factors influencing access to produce markets for smallholder irrigators in South Africa. Dev South Afr 26: 47–58.    
  • 27. Almond FR, Hainsworth SD (2005) Beyond Agriculture-making markets work for the poor: Proceedings of an international seminar, 28 February–1 March 2005. Westminster, London, UK. Crop Post-Harvest Programme (CPHP), Natural Resources International Limited, Aylesford, Kent and Practical Action, Bourton on Dunsmore, Warwickshire, UK, 176.
  • 28. Pinstrup-Andersen P (2009) Food security: Definition and measurement. Food Secur 1: 5–7.    
  • 29. Chamberlin J (2008) It's a small world after all: Defining smallholder agriculture in Ghana. Discussion Paper 00823. Washington, DC: IFPRI, 36.
  • 30. Christiaensen L, Demery L, Kuhl J (2010) The (evolving) role of agriculture in poverty reduction: An empirical perspective. J Dev Econ 96: 239–254.
  • 31. Pienaar L, Traub LN (2015) Understanding the smallholder farmer in South Africa: Towards a sustainable livelihoods classification. Proceedings of the 29th International conference of agricultural economists: Agriculture in an interconnected world. 8th–14th August, Milan, Italy.
  • 32. Hawkes C, Turner R, Waage J (2012) Current and planned research on agriculture for improved nutrition: A mapping and a gap analysis. Report for the Department of International Development (DFID). London: Leverhulme Centre for Integrative Research on Agriculture and Health/University of Aberdeen/Center for Sustainable International Development.
  • 33. Dioula BM, Deret H, Morel J, et al. (2013) Enhancing the role of smallholder farmers in achieving sustainable food and nutrition security. Paper presented at the ICN2, Second International Conference on Nutrition, Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 13.
  • 34. World Food Programme-WFP (2012) Comprehensive food security and vulnerability analysis andnutrition survey, World Food Programme, 154.
  • 35. Salami A, Kamara AB, Brixiova Z (2010) Smallholder agriculture in East Africa: Trends, constraints and opportunities, Working Papers Series N 105 African Development Bank, Tunis, Tunisia, 53.
  • 36. Griggs DM, Stafford-Smith O, Gaffney J, et al. (2013) Policy: Sustainable development goals for people and planet. Nature 495: 305–307.    
  • 37. World Bank (2007) Enhancing agricultural innovation: How to go beyond the strengthening of research systems, Agriculture and Rural Development Department, World Bank, Washington, DC.
  • 38. Ukeje E (2004) Modernizing smallholder agriculture to ensure food security and gender empowerment: Issues and policy. Int Group Twenty-Four Res Pap, 23.
  • 39. Wiggins S, Keats S (2013) Leaping and learning: Linking smallholders to markets in Africa. London: Agriculture for Impact, Imperial College and Overseas Development Institute, 120.
  • 40. Session S (2009) Smallholder agriculture and food security in the 21st Century. Round Table. Schanbacher WD, 2010. The politics of food: The global conflict between food security and food sovereignty. ABC-CLIO.
  • 41. Aliber M, Hall R (2012) Support for smallholder farmers in South Africa: Challenges of scale and strategy. Dev South Afr 29: 548–562.    
  • 42. Godfray HCJ, Beddington JR, Crute IR, et al. (2010) Food security: The challenge of feeding 9 billion people. Science 5967: 812–818.
  • 43. World Bank (2010) World Development Report: Agriculture for Development, Washington DC: The World Bank, 444.
  • 44. Hart SL, Sharma S (2009) Engaging fringe stakeholders for competitive imagination. Academy of Management Executive, 18 February, 7–18.
  • 45. Smith LC, Haddad L (2000) Explaining child malnutrition in developing countries: A cross-country analysis International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, DC, 115.
  • 46. Gillespie S, Harris J, Kadiyala S (2012) The agriculture-nutrition disconnect in India: What Do We Know? Technical Report. IFPRI Discussion Paper, Washington DC, 57.
  • 47. Dorward A (2013) How can agricultural interventions contribute to improving nutrition healthand achieving the MDGs in the least developed countries? Working paper, CeDEP (Centre for Development, Environment and Policy). SOAS, University of London and Leverhulme Center for Integrative Research in Agriculture and Health, 23.
  • 48. Chapman R, Tripp R (2004) Background paper on rural livelihoods diversity and agriculture. Paper prepared for the 2004 AgREN electronic 229 conference on the Implications of Rural Livelihood Diversity for Pro-poor Agricultural Initiatives.
  • 49. Hazell P, Poulton C, Wiggins S, et al. (2007) The future of small farms for poverty reduction and growth. Washington DC, Int Food Policy Res Inst, 38.
  • 50. Barrett CB, Reardon T, Webb P (2001) Nonfarm income diversification and household livelihood strategies in rural Africa: Concepts, dynamics and policy implications. Food Policy 26: 315–331.    


This article has been cited by

  • 1. Collins M. Musafiri, Joseph M. Macharia, Onesmus K. Ng'etich, Milka N. Kiboi, Jeremiah Okeyo, Chris A. Shisanya, Elizabeth A. Okwuosa, Daniel N. Mugendi, Felix K. Ngetich, Farming systems’ typologies analysis to inform agricultural greenhouse gas emissions potential from smallholder rain-fed farms in Kenya, Scientific African, 2020, 8, e00458, 10.1016/j.sciaf.2020.e00458

Reader Comments

your name: *   your email: *  

© 2019 the Author(s), licensee AIMS Press. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Licese (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)

Download full text in PDF

Export Citation

Copyright © AIMS Press All Rights Reserved