South African agriculture, forestry and fisheries minister Senzeni Zokwana said 29,4 million people in the Southern Africa Development Community are food-insecure during the 2018/19 consumption year.
Zokwana said this during the World Food Day commemoration held at Bunya village in the Kavango West region on Tuesday.
The event is celebrated under the theme 'Our Actions are our Future. A #Zero Hunger World by 2030 is Possible'.
The minister said this year's theme is in line with the 17 UN sustainable development goals (SDGs), in particular, the first SDG, which speaks to eradicating poverty in all its forms, and the second SDG, which calls for 'zero hunger' to be attained.
Zokwana informed the gathering that South Africa is one of four countries, alongside the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi and Zimbabwe which make up close to 90% of the food-insecure people.
"According to a 2017 general household survey, the number of South Africans with inadequate or severely inadequate access to food stands at 13,9 million," he said.
Decreases in food-insecure populations have been recorded in Namibia and Swaziland (eSwatini).
The consolidated approach to reporting indicators of food security, he added, indicates that 39% of rural Namibians are moderately food-insecure, and 1,4% are severely food-insecure.
"In urban areas, 69,3% are food-insecure, and 1,1% severely food-insecure, with about 24% of children under five years stunted."
Zokwana said it is of importance to note that food and nutrition are complex matters to address as they are fundamentally related to structural societal factors, including developmental issues such as access to land, credit, education and employment.
Agriculture, he added, is the key to economic transformation, as about 70% of the region's population depends on agriculture for food, income and employment.
The event was also attended by minister of agriculture, water and forestry, Alpheus !Naruseb, governors of the 14 regions in Namibia, and guests from the international community.