Development of evidence-based policy around homestead food production
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A substantial proportion of South Africans (possibly 50%) are food insecure and many suffer from nutrient deficiencies. Homestead food production is one element of a strategy for combating food insecurity, and it applies both to urban and rural areas. It also can lead to income savings by substituting for bought food and potentially be the beginning of a route for small-scale income generation. It is unlikely to contribute significantly to bulk energy supply but can make a significant contribution in improved and better balanced nutrition, as well as contributing to protein intake e.g. from eggs and legumes. The promotion of homestead production is widespread from NGOs and government. However the scale and its impact are not known. There is some evidence that it is making an impact on nutrition and incomes. Surveys show that practitioners e.g. of urban agriculture indicate the need for support for inputs, equipment and advice, although other support is probably more appropriate. This also points to the need for adequate evaluation and lesson-learning from current initiatives. Water is a critical resource and a key area for investment so that (expensive) municipal water is not used but rather rainwater harvesting or use of grey water, as well as ensuring soil fertility, e.g. from composting, green manures etc.