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The social return on the Agriplanner programme

The social return on the AgriPlanner programme

The South African Institute for Entrepreneurship is a social profit organisation dedicated to supporting poverty eradication through enterprise development and the creation of entrepreneurs in all settings in South Africa. The idea of a ‘social profit’ is rooted in the premise of performance-based social investment. Under this paradigm, the work of “non profit organisations”, which is dedicated to achieving a social change agenda, far from being “not profitable” is of extreme social importance – and the “return” they generate on the donors funds they use should be viewed as a social profit. This return on a social investment or ‘social profit’ would manifest in the form of lives changed for the better. Thus by providing clear, accurate and concise information, before and after an investment by Coronation, we believe Coronation can know – and calculate – exactly how its investment has been used, and what kind of social impact it will generate ie. What its social return or “social profit” will be. This demand for ‘social profit’ drives investment-minded decision-making on the part of the Coronation and accountability to social mission on the part of the SAIE. Food security, sustainable livelihoods, poverty eradication: The social profit of AgriPlanner Access to sufficient food is the constitutional right of all South Africans. At the national level, South Africa is a food secure nation. This means the country produces its main staple foods, exports its surplus food, and imports what it needs to meet its food requirements. Yet, the picture at the level of households is very different. According to Statistics South Africa, around 35% of the total population, 14.3 million South Africans, are currently vulnerable to food insecurity. Among these, women, children and the elderly are particularly more vulnerable. Approximately 1,5 million children under the age of 6 years are malnourished, and therefore stunted because of lack of proper nutrition. (Stats SA: Measuring Poverty in SA, 2000). The current situation in South Africa shows that food security is not a failure of agriculture to produce sufficient food at the national level, but instead a widespread, complex failure of households to guarantee access to sufficient food. Food insecurity and malnutrition are highest in provinces with large rural populations such as KwaZulu-Natal, Northern Province, Eastern Cape and the Free State. The demands of the colonial and apartheid eras for male labour in urban areas have resulted in the erosion of the fundamentally agrarian existence of Black Africans, and a subsequent increased reliance on non-farm and non-rural incomes. There is a greater reliance on purchased food as opposed to own-produced food which exposes vulnerable households to the adverse effects of price fluctuations which can have a devastating impact on the living standards of the predominantly rural ultra-poor who spend more than 50% of their income on food. Poverty and food insecurity are locked into the same destructive cycle. Poverty is the leading cause of food insecurity, and food insecurity is a major contributor to the continuity of poverty. The United Nations World Food Summit (Rome 1996) defined food security as a situation “when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food, and can meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.” This definition assumes three factors, the adequacy of available food; constant, sufficient access to food and equitable food distribution. The widespread inequality and grinding poverty affecting half of our population results in inadequate food supply, poor nutrition, unstable food supply and weak emergency food management systems. Inadequate social safety nets, high unemployment and high prevalence of HIV/AIDS further exacerbate food insecurity.
The chronic lack of food security experienced by more than a third of the country’s population highlights severe, threatening inequalities in South African society. The current food insecurity situation has a gender bias, with women-headed households more vulnerable than male-headed households; and girls under six years of age more prone to stunting due to poor nutrition than boys. There is a clear racial bias, with Black South African households making up the vast majority of food insecure homes. There is also a glaring rural bias, with rural households being far more prone to food insecurity than urban homes. The issue of food insecurity is complex, systemic and multi-sectoral, involving access to viable land, sufficient water, environmentally-friendly technologies, credit and sustainable markets. It also includes soil fertility, ecological health, income-generation opportunities and nutritional education. Why Invest in AgriPlanner as a support programme for small-scale farming / food gardening? – The Costs of Food Insecurity- Food insecurity adversely affects all levels of social and economic life. With a prevalence of 35% of population vulnerable to food insecurity, the issue in South Africa is one of social equity and economic justice. Food insecurity impacts on the current and future stability of the nation. The long-term impact of such high rates of food deprivation on the development potential and quality of the South African labour force and hence, on economic growth and poverty reduction is extraordinarily high, especially when you consider that the impact of this current situation stretches over as many as three generations. At the household level, food insecurity leads to disproportionately high health and medical costs, high funeral expenses, poor educational development and performance and low labour productivity. At the national level, the costs of food security are far-reaching and diverse. Because of its inextricable relationship to poverty, food insecurity is a contributor to the high costs of policing, criminal and justice expenses, as well as low investor confidence and the resulting loss of capital investment in the country. A concerted effort, through a systemic, multi-sector approach, to achieve food security is a foundation block in the building of strong, robust, secure nation. Since the current food insecurity in South Africa is not a result of the failure of large-scale commercial farming, the emphasis must be on strengthening small-scale farming and community food gardening programmes. Most importantly, however, the ability of these initiatives to generate income to supplement household food provision is critical. – The Role of Food Gardening and Small-Scale Farming in achieving Food Security – Agriculture contributes to poverty alleviation in rural and urban areas, and nationally, by reducing food prices, creating employment, increasing real wages, and improving farm income. Studies conducted in several countries indicate that: “the pro-poor role of agricultural growth can be dramatic, and much more effective than other sectors at reducing poverty and hunger in both urban and rural areas. Agricultural growth has strong and positive impact on poverty often significantly greater than that of other economic sectors” (Food and Agriculture Organisation, 2004). Many demonstrations have indicated that the poverty-alleviation effects of agricultural growth are strong. Studies also show that growing the agricultural sector is the primary channel for achieving household food security. This presents a strong case for community-level agriculture’s role in reducing poverty. However, unless agriculture reaches some degree of commercialisation, the impact of agricultural growth on food insecurity and poverty alleviation is limited. Access to agricultural support services remains the major factor constraining the growth of smallholder agriculture in South Africa, most especially in the former homelands. Experience from other countries indicates that a comprehensive approach to the provision of support services is required to achieve growth in the smallholder agricultural sector. Unless a farmer support programme of appropriate scale and scope is put in place, smallholder farmers will have little chance of escaping poverty, and agriculture’s role in creating livelihood opportunities will remain limited. In terms of current best practice for addressing food insecurity, it is clear that programmes must invest in training for small-scale producers, most critically by providing entrepreneurial expertise that will enable effective utilisation of resources and the establishment of enterprises to supplement and support farming activities. Such programmes provide the strategies to specifically link (mostly women) and rural food gardeners to the economic mainstream. AgriPlanner is currently the only specifically focused tool to provide this kind of support to growers in South Africa and elsewhere.