South Africa: Food Gardens and Small-Scale Farmers Hold Key to Food System Transformation


South Africa has recently seen a resurgence of food gardens and small scale agriculture. This is an important marker of where and how we should approach agrarian transformation and food system development in South Africa. These 'emergent', new or 'small' farmers can make a significant contribution to our food system, both in food production and in community development.

Food gardens and small-scale farms are the diametric opposite of large-scale agriculture, and this itself reflects the exclusion that has been effective in land, agrarian and food systems since colonialism.

The most recent General Household Survey (StatsSA 2019) indicated that up to 2.2 million households have recently constructed food gardens at their homes in order to avert food insecurity. It is these farmers who hold the key to food system transformation, and our policy and developmental approaches need to meet them halfway if we want to transform our food system.

The Agricultural Census of 2011 (StatsSA 2011) and the recent GHS indicate that slightly less than 20% of the population is active in agriculture. We can safely say that there are about 2.5 million "agricultural" households in South Africa, but the more recent statistics on the resurgence of food gardens shows that...

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