Agriculture, food security, foodways and health in the Makhathini farming region of South Africa

Title: Agriculture, food security, foodways and health in the Makhathini farming region of South Africa

LCIRAH researchers: Lizzie Hull (SOAS)

Description: The research investigates agricultural production, livelihoods and foodways among farmers in South Africa, and the impact of these upon food consumption and nutrition. Specifically, it entails an extended ethnographic study of farmers working in the Makhathini area of KwaZulu-Natal. While traditional political ecology of Africa has treated changes in food consumption as a result of shifting production practices, more recent literature places emphasis on the social significance of consumption itself, within a context of a commodity culture increasingly detached from processes of production. The research will consider the connections and disconnections between production and consumption by looking at how food growing, spending and household consumption intersect from day to day. Motivated by an interest in developing methodological and theoretical linkages between the study of agriculture, food consumption and human health, the research considers to what extent nutrition and diet are influenced by the institutional, historical and political dynamics shaping agricultural practice. Preliminary results suggest that food insecurity is alleviated by diversifying livelihoods and by intra- and inter- household patterns of food exchange, but that these are limited by structural, economic and agronomic constraints. Final results are not yet available.

Collaborators:  British Academy; University of Pretoria