Student-led Project

Examining the South African agricultural governance system through the lens of complexity theory to enquire how agriculture can contribute to food and nutritional security while meeting the challenges of sustainability, resilience and job creation

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This Ph.D. dissertation examines how agricultural governance requires analysis as a complex system, rather than being relegated to free market oversight and trends. The current South African (and global) agricultural system(s) generate unsustainable externalities and inefficiencies while failing to meet social nutritional requirements. The research seeks to address these shortcomings and encourage development of a diverse, resilient and productive sector which meets the imperatives of national food and nutritional security. By framing agricultural governance within a complex system we hope to demonstrate to policy makers the requirements of an inclusive approach to governance that broadens oversight beyond commercial imperatives.

The underlying research has employed innovative use of the Net-Map process, a participative social mapping tool. This has been used to identify connections and influence between the numerous actors within the governance system. Net-Map has been used to gain insight from both top-down (government, research, business) and bottom-up (civil society) perspectives. These are compared to see where useful interventions may be made to the system while seeking to reduce the risks of systemic disruption through unintended consequences. The research is aligned to a new Provincial programme pursuing improved food and nutritional governance. Consequently it engages with a broad range of role-players associated with this programme, ensuring the research is directed toward practical action and implementation.

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