University of Stellenbosch Food Security Initiative e-news Food security (FS) is widely recognized as a complex social problem. While there is broad agreement that FS involves ensuring that everyone has sufficient food for a healthy and productive life, now and in the future, research in the field encompasses a wide range of perspectives, objectives and methodologies. From an initial research focus on food production to ensure national food security, the field broadened to include factors affecting household and individual food security, food chain analysis and more recently, community food security. Issues related to environmental and social sustainability of the food system have also recently become more prominent in food security discourses. Stellenbosch University (SU) has embarked on a Food Security Initiative (FSI) in which research focuses on some of the key areas surrounding food security. Working with a range of stakeholders, FSI adopts a multi-method approach to gain a better understanding of factors that affect food security in the context of changing bio-physical, economic, and socio-political conditions. The vision of the initiative is to contribute to the emergence of a resilient, sustainable food system in Southern Africa, by reconceptualizing the food security challenge, and creating new models of practice in the food system, through the integration of findings from in-depth research on key issues in the food value chain, collaboration across disciplinary boundaries, capacity building, and systematic impact assessment. E-news is a six monthly newsletter to update interested stakeholders on projects progress as well as introduce new projects as they start. For any information please contact Julia Harper (firstname.lastname@example.org). CASE STUDIES OF SOUTH AFRICA’S EMERGING FARMERS AND AGRIBUSINESSES Much has been said in the media, politics, business, academic, development and various other forums about South Africa’s emerging farmers. Despite wide ranging opinions on their role in the economy, contribution to food security and the issues that they face, emerging farmers are incorrectly portrayed as a homogenous group. This forthcoming book entitled “Case Studies of Emerging Agribusinesses and Farmers in South Africa” will profile emerging black agribusiness entrepreneurs and farmers and to identify cases of successes and failures, challenges and opportunities, and patterns that govern the fate of emerging agribusinesses and farmers in South Africa. The motivation behind the project is twofold: first, to develop a comprehensive set of case studies for use in educational institutions in South Africa and beyond, and, second, to develop a rich and detailed picture of emerging agribusinesses in South Africa Food today. Implications for national food security will be drawn from these case studies. The book will comprise of about 18 chapters of which 15 will be case studies of emerging farmers and agribusinesses. Sixteen of these chapters have already been commissioned and research work has commenced. The case studies that are currently being documented cover the following key sub-sectors of South Security African agriculture: Fruit products, Grains and oilseeds, Wines, Aquaculture, Beef, Dairy, Ostrich, Sheep, Hibiscus Tea, Poultry, Vegetables, Ornamental plants and cut flowers. First drafts of the chapters are due in October. Discussions are currently underway with University of Cape Town Press (UCT Press) who have been earmarked as publishers for the book. Initiative www.sun.ac.za/foodsecurity FOOD SECURITY, VULNERABILITY & CLIMATE CHANGE IN SOUTH AFRICA The Flemish Government donated EUR7.5m for the Empowerment for Food Security Programme (EFSP) in KwaZulu-Natal. The programme was set up to develop an innovative basket of food security interventions in 8 municipalities, equally spread over 4 districts, as such creating a laboratory for the wider provincial support to food insecure communities and homesteads. As part of this project, Prof. D’Haese was contracted to create a comprehensive tool to measure food security and to identify the link between food security and climate change. The partners in this research project are the University of Antwerp, the University of Gent and the University of Stellenbosch. To date, a Food Security Index which integrates the four dimensions of food security has been devised and tested in the field. Subsequently, a full survey was done covering 390 households in the eight municipalities, and the preliminary analysis of the data completed. MEAT SCIENCE AND FOOD SECURITY There are several projects underway working towards minimizing the wastage that occurs along the whole meat value chain with a focus on game meat. Other projects are working on improving food safety with special reference to meat products and increasing the protein intake of those who are currently undernourished. There are 11 students working on these various projects and this work will continue with Masters students aiming to graduate in March 2012. So far these projects have been able to release and share results in the following papers at the 15th World Conference of Food Science & Technology. Cape Town International Convention Centre. Cape Town, 22-26 August 2010. Here the following presentations were given: Prof. Chris Cruywagen delivered a paper on Melamine entitled “The threat of melamine in the feed and food chains”. Prof. C. Leygonie (co-authors Britz, T.J. & Hoffman, L.C) gave a paper on “Oxidative stability of fresh ostrich M. iliofibularis packaged under different modified atmospheric packaging conditions”. There were also four poster presentations given. COMMUNITY NUTRITION SECURITY PROJECT The overall focus of the Community Nutrition Security Project is to deepen understanding of local conditions that contribute to the persistence of malnutrition, and test policy and program innovations to create conditions for community nutrition security and optimal child growth, in the context of high burdens of TB, HIV and chronic diseases. Phase one of the research project, which explores the linkages between young child growth and community food security in two peri-urban communities in the Breede Valley, includes a cross-sectional baseline assessment of the nutritional status and dietary practices of a representative sample on infants and young children and their primary caregivers, as well as the household and community food security conditions under which they live. The study, for which data collection will begin in the first quarter of 2011, will include both quantitative and qualitative measures of nutrition security. The first phase will also include a detailed description of the components of the local food system and in-depth interviews with key stakeholders to determine the issues and opportunities in the system. Through stakeholder mapping, the team will begin to establish relationships with potential partners in the system, and begin to plan the subsequent participatory review and action phases of the project. Under the umbrella of the CNSP, several masters and PhD students are currently developing research proposals for detailed studies on specific topics related to child growth, community food security, and nutrition-related support for persons affected by HIV and TB. These studies include an in-depth look at barriers and enablers for optimal infant feeding practices; food-based strategies to improve the nutrient quality of complementary foods for young children; an exploration of the impact of Food access to social grants on food practices in vulnerable households; how food vendors influence the food practices of school-going children; the potential role of Vit D supplementation in the treatment of TB patients; food safety issues in household affected by HIV and TB; and the contribution of a rights-based approach to understanding and address community nutrition security challenges. Security BIOCHAR AMENDMENT ON INFERTILE, SANDY SOIL FROM THE CAPE FLATS, SOUTH AFRICA Initiative www.sun.ac.za/foodsecurity There is global interest in the use biochar as a soil amendment to permanently sequester carbon in soils, which is currently the only possibility of using soil as a long-term carbon sink. The use of biochar in South Africa in the agricultural sector is relatively new and Stellenbosch University is investigating the use of biochar as a soil amendment to improve the fertility and sustainability of low potential, sandy soils. The work is structured as four M.Sc. projects with the following foci: 1. Effect of biochar on soil chemical properties and biomass production and food quality. 2. Effect of biochar on soil physical properties and biomass water-use efficiency. 3. Interactions of biochar with arbuscular micorrhizal fungi (AMF) in soils. 4. Biochar as habitat for soil organisms and the stability of biochar in soil environments. Chemical and physical laboratory tests were carried out to characterise the properties of biochar. A range of mixtures of biochar with acid sand, collected from the wheat producing area, were made to conduct pot experiments with winter wheat as reference crop. Biochar so far shows remarkable resistance to biological degradation, particularly in aerobic conditions, and encouraging signs on both plant growth and the carbon that is sequestered. Further investigations are under way. APPLE PREFERENCE AMONG SOUTH AFRICAN CONSUMERS Fruit breeding is a very time-consuming and expensive process, with only a few cultivars achieving commercial success. As fruit growing becomes a more competitive business, breeding fruit for consumer demand becomes increasingly important. Fruit must be bred with the consumer foremost in mind. Furthermore, different consumers have different responses regarding liking of the same fruit. To circumvent this problem, more advanced forms of sensory analyses have been used in addition to the breeder’s evaluation of apple selections. It is vital to determine the sensory attributes which consumers regard as important, not only to develop consumer driven breeding programmes and subsequent cultivars that satisfy consumer needs, but also to develop effective marketing programmes. This study aims to link knowledge over a range of disciplines to ensure appropriate quality fruit are provided to appropriate consumers in the right context. Increased consumer satisfaction should increase purchase of apples and decrease wastage. Our results indicate that factors such as age and race group significantly affect the preference of South African consumers for apple appearance and taste. Multivariate statistical analysis will be used to gain a better understanding of how segments of these consumers differ in their preferences and to identify the attributes that each consumer segment responds to. SUSTAINABILITY AND FOOD SECURITY There are several projects looking at what a food secure community would look like, working with a local community on some key issues. Two of the students completing their Masters degrees as part of this project have submitted their first drafts and are on track to graduate in March 2011. In addition, two of the research projects within this project had abstracts approved for the Development Southern Africa Journal earlier in the year. These journal articles have now been submitted to the journal. A third article has been submitted for possible inclusion in a book on the Sustainability Challenge of Stellenbosch. A preliminary synthesis document of the past year’s research is currently being compiled. This will be distributed to the various stakeholders and parties who participated in the research by mid October. The final synthesis including some of the outstanding research items as well as the findings from the two Masters Theses will be completed thereafter. The iinvestigation of the existing production-beneficiation strategies of food production in the Stellenbosch region is underway along with an updated review of the work done by NGOs operating in broader Stellenbosch in the area of food security. This has been included as anecdotal evidence suggests that there has been an increase in NGOs responses to the food security challenge. Two so called Non Academic Food projects have also been completed. The first is a short film detailing the differences in food strategies and cultures between two individuals in Stellenbosch, one a resident of an informal area in Kayamandi and the other a well resourced Stellenbosch student. A second has been a photographic project reviewing the weekly food basket of different Stellenbosch families. Spier has been approached and have expressed an interest in possibly showing the photo project in Security one of their galleries. These conversations are ongoing. FSI in the news… Initiative Following a Stellenbosch Forum presentation in September, Prof. McLachlan & Julia Harper were interviewed by www.sun.ac.za/foodsecurity both the local and national press. The FSI was encouraged to have coverage on the radio & TV and able to highlight key issues surrounding Food Security in South and Southern Africa. NEW AREAS OF THE FSI IN 2011… •Post-doc on Post-Harvest Technology •3-pronged approach 1. Creating and maintaining a database/repository on both published and unpublished work on food security in South and Southern Africa. 2. Through a collaborative process work towards developing a framework forming part of the food security research agenda for the Western Cape, and eventually add to other work for South and Southern Africa. 3. cataloging and categorizing the various theoretical perspectives, conceptual frameworks and methodological approaches applied to food security, in order to develop a meta-perspective on food security.
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