The South African Food system is designed to ensure that the country’s population is well-nourished, that farming is a viable livelihood and that the environment is protected. Our challenge is that obesity rates are high, rainfall is unpredictable causing crop failures and floods, and farm profitability is difficult to achieve. In this project, we will explore how to meet these diverse goals by bringing together ideas and people with different perspectives from the public and private sectors including agriculturalists, nutritionists, health professionals, food processors and distributors, and natural resource managers. How can agricultural policy influence food choices to improve childhood nutrition and reduce obesity? Can agricultural practices be modified to protect drinking water supplies without reducing farm incomes? What steps are needed to reduce the impacts of climate change on food production? Arriving at answers to these questions will not the easy, but failure to address them will have long-term negative effects on the environment, the economy and the health of the South African people. Our first product will be a strategy paper that will outline how to address these complex issues and then we will work with the Sustainable Agro-Ecosystems group towards development of functional and sustainable food systems.
This project forms part of the project Impact of sustainable intensification of food production on environment and human well-being, convened by Richard Sikora (INRS, Bonn); it falls within the longer term theme project Sustainable Agro-Ecosystems.