IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

The contribution of subsistence farming to food security in South Africa


  • Baiphethi, Mompati N.
  • Jacobs, Peter T.


Poor households access their food from the market, subsistence production and transfers from public programmes or other households. In the past rural households produced most of their own food, but recent studies have shown an increase in dependence on market purchases by both urban and rural households, in some cases reaching 90% of the food supplies. Food expenditures can account for as much as 60–80% of total household income for low-income households in some parts of sub-Saharan Africa. Subsistence/smallholder agriculture can play an important role in reducing the vulnerability of rural and urban food-insecure households, improving livelihoods, and helping to mitigate high food price inflation. There is a need to significantly increase the productivity of subsistence/smallholder agriculture and ensure long-term food security. This can be achieved by encouraging farmers to pursue sustainable intensification of production through the use of improved inputs. This will require a dramatic increase in the use of fertiliser, organic inputs and conservation investments, combined with the development of well-functioning input and output markets to help farmers acquire and use improved inputs, market their (surplus) output and reduce transaction costs and risks. Increased productivity will reduce pressure on marginal lands, as the intensification of cultivated land will reduce pressure to crop fragile marginal lands. There is a need to determine methods of identifying cost-effective ways to improve access to inputs by, among other things, improving delivery, and assisting farmers to earn cash to purchase inputs and invest in infrastructure, thereby improving food security.

Suggested Citation

  • Baiphethi, Mompati N. & Jacobs, Peter T., 2009. "The contribution of subsistence farming to food security in South Africa," Agrekon, Agricultural Economics Association of South Africa (AEASA), vol. 48(4), December.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:agreko:58216

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Anonymous, 1997. "Meeting Food Aid and Price Support Objectives through Local Grain Purchase: A Review of the 1996 Experience in Ethiopia," Food Security Collaborative Working Papers 54956, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
    2. Abdulai, Awudu & Barrett, Christopher B. & Hazell, Peter, 2004. "Food aid for market development in Sub-Saharan Africa," DSGD discussion papers 5, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    3. Christopher B. Barrett, 1998. "Food Aid: Is It Development Assistance, Trade Promotion, Both, or Neither?," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 80(3), pages 566-571.
    4. Lavy, Victor, 1990. "Does food aid depress food production? The disincentive dilemma in the African context," Policy Research Working Paper Series 460, The World Bank.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Mohajan, Haradhan, 2016. "Amartya Sen’s Peasant Economies: A Review with Examples," MPRA Paper 82937, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 25 Jan 2016.
    2. Jolejole-Foreman, Maria Christina & Olofin, Ibironke & Fawzi, Wafaie & Fink, Gunther, 2016. "Associations between Food Scarcity during Pregnancy and Children’s Survival and Linear Growth in Zambia," 2016 Annual Meeting, July 31-August 2, 2016, Boston, Massachusetts 235111, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    3. S. Sharaunga & M. Mudhara, 2016. "The impact of improved ‘water-use security’ on women’s reliance on agricultural incomes in KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa," Food Security: The Science, Sociology and Economics of Food Production and Access to Food, Springer;The International Society for Plant Pathology, vol. 8(6), pages 1039-1052, December.
    4. Sheona Shackleton & Marty Luckert, 2015. "Changing Livelihoods and Landscapes in the Rural Eastern Cape, South Africa: Past Influences and Future Trajectories," Land, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 4(4), pages 1-30, November.
    5. Ambagna, Jean Joël & Kane, Gilles Quentin & Oyekale Abayomi, Samuel, 2012. "Subsistence Farming and Food Security in Cameroon: A Macroeconomic Approach," MPRA Paper 62756, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 2012.
    6. Louw Pienaar & Dieter von Fintel, 2013. "Hunger in the former apartheid homelands: Determinants of converging food security 100 years after the 1913 Land Act," Working Papers 26/2013, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    7. Chisasa, Joseph, 0. "Agriculture – A Corporate Finance Perspective," Journal of Agribusiness and Rural Development, University of Life Sciences, Poznan, Poland, issue 1.
    8. Ward, Catherine D. & Shackleton, Charlie M., 2016. "Natural Resource Use, Incomes, and Poverty Along the Rural–Urban Continuum of Two Medium-Sized, South African Towns," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 80-93.
    9. Majiwa, Eucabeth Bosibori Opande & Lee, Boon & Wilson, Clevo, 2015. "Multi-lateral multi-output measurement of productivity: the case of African agriculture," 2015 Conference, August 9-14, 2015, Milan, Italy 212769, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    10. Chisasa, Joseph, 0. "Sources Of Growth In South African Sources Of Growth In South African Agriculture – A Corporate Finance Perspective," Journal of Agribusiness and Rural Development, University of Life Sciences, Poznan, Poland, issue 4.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ags:agreko:58216. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (AgEcon Search). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.