Written by Percy Moleke (Deputy Director-General, Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation) and Silondile Mpotshane (Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation) for the SDG Bulletin South Africa (May 2018)


The South African government has committed to promoting and protecting the right of South Africans’ access to adequate food. The National Development Plan(NDP), which was adopted in 2012, also argues for a focus on food security and provides a roadmap for South Africa’s future, including food security.

The approval of both the National Policy on Food and Nutrition Securityand the Household Food and Nutrition Security Strategy in 2013 by Cabinet confirms a commitment by government to promote the eradication of hunger and the achievement of food security.

There is significant alignment between the SA government’s objectives on food security and the SDGs, evident in the following:

  • SDG 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.
  • AU Goal 3: Healthy and Well-Nourished Citizens.
  • AU Goal 5: Modern Agriculture for increased productivity and production.
  • NDP Chapter 6: An integrated and inclusive rural economy.
  • Medium Term Strategic Framework(MTSF) Outcome 7 of sub-outcome 3: Comprehensive rural development and land reform.

In response to the National Policy on Food and Nutrition Security, several South African government departments have initiated programmes that address food security, namely: food availability, food utilization, food access and stability of food supply. These pillars provide an overview of those government departments that are responsible for each pillar.

There are key two types of programmes that contribute to the achievement of the objectives of the National Policy on Food and Nutrition Security rests on two pillars namely: social pillar, with a large focus on food security at a household level and the economic pillar, which focuses on food security at a much broader/country level.

  1. The social pillar includes the National School Nutrition Programme, Social Grants, Social Relief of Distress, Community Nutritional Development Centres (CNDC), Nutrition Roadmap, Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), Free Basic Services, South African Vulnerability Assessment, etc.
  2. The economic pillar includes the Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme (CASP) / Ilima Letsema / Fetsa Tlala / Operation Phakisa, Micro-Agricultural Financial Institutions of South Africa (MAFISA), Agri-Parks, Market Access programs, One Household One Hectare, Land Reform / Comprehensive Rural Development Programme (CRDP) / Recapitalisation and Development Programme (RADP or RECAP), Agro-processing, Local Economic Development (LED) programs etc.

In the medium term, government committed to ensuring food security through implementation of the comprehensive food security and nutrition strategy to benefit 4.3 million vulnerable people, or 1.6 million households and through cultivation of 1 million hectares of under-utilised land in communal areas and land reform projects. However, the achievement of these targets is threatened by some challenges including, but not limited to; lack of increased production efficiency, access to new markets and opportunities, insufficient basic on- and off-farm infrastructure, (availability and affordability) of key inputs for cultivation, high input costs, lack of capital and difficulties by smallholder producers in acquiring new, technologically improved inputs.

In addition to these technical challenges, are governance issues, with the continued fragmentation evident in overlapping mandates and functions. This negates the intention to achieve a coherent implementation of National Food and Nutrition Security Plan (2017-2020).

While the challenge facing South African government in this regard is massive, from the perspective of policy formulation the South African government’s response to the challenge is showing credible results. While food insecurity has decreased over the past years, a sizeable proportion of households remain at risk of hunger. Nonetheless, the measures and programmes initiated by the South African government appear to be beneficial and show potential to sustainably maintain food security in South Africa.