Should subsistence agriculture be supported as a strategy to address rural food insecurity?
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At first glance South Africa's black farming sector appears to contribute rather minimally to overall agricultural output in South Africa. However, despite the complexity involved in this sector and the often marginal conditions in which agriculture is practised it appears to be important to a large number of black households. Furthermore, the significance they attach to subsistence agriculture as
means of supplementing household food supplies seems to heavily outweigh other reasons for engaging in agriculture. Some South African researchers have indicated the contribution subsistence production makes to household food security, despite the
prevalent complexities and the low input nature of this production. Statistics South Africa's Labour Force Survey data from 2001 to 2007 and a case study of subsistence farming in Limpopo Province are used to support the argument that, despite the complexity of this sector, the more than 4 million subsistence farmers, need and merit greater support. Such support should be based on the local context, build on and, where appropriate, improve existing local practices, while addressing various existing threats to this type of production. Recommendations are made as to what policy makers need to consider when considering how best to support subsistence production.