South Africa’s food security status has actually improved, according to the Global Food Security Index released by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and commissioned by DuPont. This year is the fifth edition of the Global Food Security Index, which is an annual measure of the state of global food security in 113 countries (

South Africa ranks 47th among a sample 113 countries with an index score of 62.9 points out of a possible 100 points. This means that South Africa is the 47th most food secure country in the world, and the highest ranked in Africa.

The 2016 index score improved by 0.6 points, despite high levels of food inflation (10.8%), and high food prices – which were caused by a catastrophic drought. However, affordability is only one dimension of the Food Index Score. The other two measures in the score include availability, as well as quality and safety – which South Africa seems to have excelled in. That said, with food prices expected to remain at higher levels, affordability sub-index could remain under pressure.

Noted in the report is the lack of access to farm finance, which is a binding constraint on improving production efficiency and adopting better technologies across emerging markets. In South Africa, the key concern relates to the impact of the drought on the farmers’ ability to pay debt.

South Africa’s farm debt rose by 7% year-on-year from R117 billion in 2015 to R126 billion in 2016, with a growing sentiment amongst agribusinesses that some farmers might not be able to meet their debt obligations. This, according to the Agbiz/IDC Agribusiness Confidence Index, is increasing risk for agribusinesses.

Tinashe Kapuya (
Wandile Sihlobo (

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