Original Research

Food security, wheat production and policy in South Africa: Reflections on food sustainability and challenges for a market economy

Francois de Wet, Ian Liebenberg
The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa | Vol 14, No 1 | a407 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/td.v14i1.407 | © 2018 Francois De Wet, Johannes C. Liebenberg | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 17 January 2017 | Published: 30 January 2018

About the author(s)

Francois de Wet, Department of Economics, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Ian Liebenberg, Centre for Military Studies (CEMIS), Stellenbosch University, South Africa


The traditional concept of security has broadened over the past decades. Food security in South Africa is an imperative for human and non-human survival. In the contemporary political economy, there is a real nexus between globalisation, exploitation, the state, scarcity of resources, the market, peoples’ need to feel secure, notions of state responsibility and food production. Political economy and human security in theoretical debates and face-to-face politics are intrinsically linked. The notion of a ‘secure community’ changed. Food security and the right to quality living became a social imperative. Understanding current agricultural economics requires the ability to link security and access to food for all. In this case study, wheat production in South Africa is addressed against the interface of the global and the local including South Africa’s transition to a democratic and constitutional state with a Bill of Rights. The current security approach represents a more comprehensive understanding of what security is meant to be and include, amongst others, housing security, medical security, service delivery and food security, as set out in the Millennium Development Goals and the subsequent Sustainable Development Goals. The issue of food security is addressed here with particular reference to wheat production, related current government policies and the market economy. The authors chose to limit their socio-economic focus to a specific sector of the agricultural market, namely wheat, rather than discuss food security in South Africa in general. Wheat was chosen as a unit of analysis because as a crop, wheat used in bread is one of the staples for the majority of South Africans and given the current negative economic developments, wheat as a staple is likely to remain integral, if not increasing its status of dependability


South Africa; wheat production; food security; regulation of food prices; agricultural economics; food deprivation poverty; (wheat) import and export


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