Bio-fuels and Food Security in South Africa: The Role of Indigenous and Traditional Food Crops

The level of food security in South Africa is largely being influenced by income inequalities and food prices with a large part of the population that has access to food but do not have the financial means to obtain it. Despite ever increasing food inflation, South Africa is still adopting policies and strategies which may contribute towards even higher levels of food inflation and consequently food insecurity in the near future. These include amongst others the National Bio-Fuel Industrial Strategy. Previous studies suggest that indigenous and traditional food crops play a substantial role in ensuring food security in several African countries. The question that arises is whether these alternative food crops do not hold the answer towards balancing the trade-off between fuel and food in South Africa. In order to answer that question, a literature review was conducted to understand the inter-linkages between food and bio-fuel as well as to understand the role that indigenous and traditional food crops are currently playing in Africa. To analyse the current status and potential of indigenous and traditional food crops in South Africa, a topical survey amongst 600 African households in the North-West Province was conducted. Contrary to other parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, the survey showed that current production and consumption of indigenous and traditional foods crops in South Africa is modest. This is mainly due to ignorance and unavailability of these specific crops. Despite this, the potential of these crops is evident in the South African context due to affordability, positive perceptions, and land availability near poor rural and peri-urban communities. Hence, indigenous and traditional food crops hold significant opportunities for South Africa to pursue bio-fuel production without compromising food security. To achieve this, specific interventions are needed to stimulate the production and consumption of indigenous and traditional food crops.

Issue Date:
Aug 01 2012
Publication Type:
Conference Paper/ Presentation
PURL Identifier:
Total Pages:
JEL Codes:
Q10; Q18; D10
Series Statement:

 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2017-04-26

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