Shifts in agricultural policy over the past two decades, and farmers' reactions to these shifts, have not undermined national food security, yet many South Africans do not live lives free of food insecurity. A review of the empirical literature shows that agricultural production must develop beyond the subsistence level to have a significant impact on the food security and nutritional status of rural people. To this end, there are four conditions necessary for reaping benefits from agriculture in South Africa's rural communities. First, benefits from agriculture are most likely only to accrue if the supply of nontradables is price elastic. Second, incentives are needed to encourage households to participate in production of farm tradables. Third, it is necessary to ensure that markets exist for the sale of smallholder produce. Fourth, the nutritional benefits of agriculture will only remain positive if the dietary changes that do occur comply with dietary guidelines.