Nearly half (49%) of South Africans will be food insecure by 2025, according to the Food Index Report.
This research was commissioned by JSE-listed Shoprite to focus national attention on food insecurity and was released yesterday.
Sanjeev Raghubir, head of Sustainability and CSI at the Shoprite Group, said: “To deal with the problem we need to better understand it and the Food Index provides us with some insight.
“Although the modelling shows an improvement by 2025, the reality is that in two years’ time just under half the population will still be struggling with hunger. That’s why we must urgently escalate the rate of people escaping food insecurity. Doing so will improve not only their prospects but that of the country.”
World Data Lab modelling predicts that nearly 49% of the South African population will be food insecure by 2025. It said around 21.18% of children in the country would be stunted.
In the Western Cape, 41% of the province's population would be food insecure of which 13% form part of the rural population and 87% being part of the urban population.
Some 54% of the population of Limpopo will be food insecure of which 48% reside in rural areas and 52% in the urban area.
In Mpumalanga, 50% would be food insecure of which 27% would come from rural areas while 73% would be the urban population.
For Gauteng, 47% of the province’s population would be food insecure, 1% coming from rural part and the 99% from the province’s urban parts.
Some 53% of KwaZulu-Natal's population would be food insecure by 2025, 41% from rural areas and 59% from the urban parts.
In the Northern Cape, 52% would be food insecure, 48% of those residing in the rural areas while 52% would be in urban areas.
The Eastern Cape would have 48% of its population being food insecure, 59% from its rural areas while 41% would be from urban areas.
Some 48% of the Free State province's population would be food insecure, 21% of those being from rural areas while 79% would be from urban ones.
Finally, in the North West province, 53% of the population would be food insecure, 36% of those residing in rural areas and 64% in urban areas.
The report said the plight of the most vulnerable would have been worsened by Post Bank’s recent social grant payment mishaps. Grants provided relief to food insecure people, often being all that stood between beneficiaries and hunger. To be effective, the model said it was imperative that social grants were distributed timeously and efficiently.
"The reason is that we must see hunger as a crisis and a threat as great as we did the Covid-19 and HIV/Aids pandemics, and the social unrest in 2021. Because we cannot expect social cohesion and development in the face of hunger. In fact, the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) contends that it is easier to solve hunger than it is to solve the problems hunger creates,“ it said.
The index said if the country reduced food insecurity and poverty, South Africa’s prospects for socio-economic development would improve drastically.
It said fixing the fact that one in five South African households did not know where their next meal would come from would see the country’s prospects for socio-economic development would improve dramatically. However, it said this would require a collaborative effort.
World Hunger Day is marked annually on October 16 to commemorate the founding of the United Nations’ FAO in 1945.
The Shoprite Group said nearly 80 years later, it seemed almost inconceivable that hunger remained a direct threat to humanity and a barrier to socio-economic development, and particularly in Southern Africa.