Food Security

, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 339–357 | Cite as

Food and cash: understanding the role of the retail sector in rural food security in South Africa

  • Laura M. PereiraEmail author
  • C. Nicholas Cuneo
  • Wayne C. Twine
Case Study


A decline in subsistence agriculture across sub-Saharan Africa has meant an increased role for the private sector in food security strategies, but this role remains a relatively blind spot in food policy. We address this gap by analyzing retailers and consumers in a rural region of South Africa. Our results show that purchasing food is an important food security strategy for the rural poor, but is constrained by a lack of access to income. Furthermore, a reliance on specific non-perishable foodstuffs impacts the micronutrients that the poorest can access if they are unable to grow their own fresh produce. Adaptive food policy thus requires a holistic appreciation of the food system - emphasizing production as well as building livelihoods outside of agriculture.


Food security Sustainable rural livelihoods Deagrarianization Retail sector South Africa 



We are grateful to the University of the Witwatersrand/Medical Research Council’s Rural Public Health and Health Transitions Research Unit (Wits/MRC Agincourt Unit) for their support with logistics, fieldworkers, data, administration, and advice. This work was indirectly supported by the Wellcome Trust (grant 085477/Z/08/Z) through its support of the Agincourt Health and Demographic Surveillance System. The authors would also like to acknowledge their individual funding bodies, the Fulbright scholarship, the Oxford Clarendon Scholarship Fund, the Commonwealth scholarship, the Future Agricultures Consortium and extend their thanks to Stacey Gouws for her contribution to data collection.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht and International Society for Plant Pathology 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laura M. Pereira
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • C. Nicholas Cuneo
    • 3
  • Wayne C. Twine
    • 4
  1. 1.School of Geography and the EnvironmentUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  2. 2.School of Environmental and Geographical SciencesUniversity of Cape TownCape TownSouth Africa
  3. 3.Harvard School of MedicineBostonUSA
  4. 4.School of Animal, Plant and Environmental SciencesUniversity of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa

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