The Future of Food: 2015-2030

Four Transformative Scenarios examining possible futures of the food system in South Africa


Hunger and malnutrition are serious problems in South Africa, problems without a quick fix. The threats to food security are so complex and interrelated that there can be no silver bullet to solve them. Consider for a moment how unemployment impacts a person’s ability to purchase nutritious food or how decreased government support for agriculture impact the country’s ability to produce food. Consider the knock-on effects of one bad crop – like how a poor maize crop in 2015 is set to impact the price of eggs, poultry, red meat and milk. How about the impacts of climate change?

The food system is complex, but it’s too important to ignore. In order to secure the system and grant South Africans their consitutional right to adequate food, we need to have a more coherent conversation, one which results in political courage, private sector initiative and strong advocacy and support from civil society. We believe that the Transformative Scenarios Report: The future of food 2015-2030 is just the start.


About the scenarios

The four scenarios are credible, plausible stories of what could happen in the future. Each scenario stands on its own, and gives rise to the next. All four stories, read together, offer different ways of thinking about food: as a natural resource, as an agricultural output, as part of the political economy, and as a primary source of well-being.


Food system cartoon animation: inciting a response

Watch in English below, in isiXhosa here, isiZulu here or Afrikaans here.


All four scenarios tell a story

The first scenario is about the natural resource base and tells the story of the impact of severe drought on vulnerable water systems in South Africa, complicated by energy insecurity. If healthy ecosystems are the root of food production, what could this scenario mean for the South African food system by 2030? The second scenario turns our attention to this dimension of food production, tracing an imagined sequence of events in land reform and considering what might happen to levels of farmer productivity and morale over the next fifteen years in the context of a polarised agricultural sector. The next scenario, on the political economy of food pans out from this focus on production to tell a story which spans the full food chain. It foregrounds the dynamics of pricing and affordability of food as the rand depreciates and takes us down the road of severe hunger in South Africa. The final story is about nutrition, exploring possible impacts of malnourishment on a well-resources and coherent strategy towards national economic growth.


What can you do?

Are these scenarios concerning? Absolutely. Are they a fait accompli? By no means. The purpose of the Transformative Scenarios exercise was always to get people thinking, talking and working together  more constructively toward a future in which there is good food for all.

By considering the plausible and possible futures that face us, we are compelled to think carefully about the decisions we make now. How can we make decisions about where we allocate our resources to better meet our needs both now and in 15 years’ time? How can we avoid the worst futures for food in South Africa and move towards a more just, stable and nourishing food system?

Think about this:

If any of these scenarios occurred, what would it mean for us? What are the challenges that they pose? If any of these scenarios occurred, what would we do?  What options do we have?' Given these possible futures, what courageous actions can we take together to create a different future?


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