It is widely postulated that school feeding programmes that use locally-produced food, specifically from within the boundaries of a community or district, can bring about additional welfare for the children involved and also for local smallholders and small processors. In countries such as Brazil, Thailand, India, Ghana, Kenya and Mali, the school feeding programmes have played a pivotal role in reducing hunger and malnutrition of children, as well as boosting domestic food production through local production. The Brazilian example of sourcing locally-produced food for school feeding programmes confirms that it is feasible to link food production, school meals, nutrition education and community participation.
The primary aim of this dissertation was to investigate the current role of school feeding programmes as a vehicle for improving market access for smallholders in South Africa. Moreover, the aim is to establish whether the school feeding programmes, especially in rural schools of South Africa, have become an important market for smallholders. The study was conducted in the Jozini Local Municipality of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) – an area highlighted in the National Development Plan as an area with vast untapped agricultural potential and where there should be greater support for public–private partnership. Two questionnaires were administered, namely farm household questionnaires and school questionnaires, to assess smallholder capacity and procurement strategies used by the schools. Key informants included officials of the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) at district level, the Department of Agriculture, smallholder farmers, and agricultural extension officers, as well as the school principals and current service providers. It is obvious that the majority of vegetables required by the NSNP can be sourced in large quantities from smallholder farmers and are available throughout the year (April to September). These vegetables are produced mainly on small plots of land measuring less than one hectare because of the lack of market access and the intensive care required. However, maize and rice (major products in demand by NSNP in the study area) cannot be sourced directly because the school requires a processed product; it might be difficult for farmers to undertake such value addition since there are no small local processors in Jozini. In cases where local production is not sufficient or unavailable, consideration should be given to procuring foodstuff from local supermarkets or wholesalers. Even though farmers have the ability to produce food items for the NSNP market, the study area is still constrained by a lack of access to agro-processing and value addition facilities, transport, post-harvest storage and production inputs.
Findings revealed that the NSNP market does have the potential to be a reliable and stable market, but currently, the NSNP implementation and procurement modality is based on a contracted service provider/middleman. In its current state of implementation, the NSNP does not facilitate smallholder inclusion in the NSNP supply chain. Smallholder farmers in the study area have not participated directly in the school feeding supply chain. Only three (2.8 %) of the local smallholder farmers have sold foodstuffs directly to NSNP, while 97.2 % have not delivered any agricultural produce to the programme. As a result, expected outcomes are not yet realised because the current model of procurement in the study area does not engage with farmers directly. That being the case, in order to facilitate smallholder inclusion in NSNP supply chain, the study recommends the introduction of a decentralised procurement system, together with a new menu recommending more local foods and a centralised payment system to avoid corruption at school level.
The study also shows that the choice of a procurement model depends on the duties carried out by the middlemen and the farmer’s cooperative. For instance, the middleman approach reduces the administration work of the NSNP. It also covers factors, such as the placing of orders, processing of invoices and transportation of produce, which the farmers might not be able to cover. However, this approach does not ensure engagement with farmers directly, and the supply chain is too long. A farmers’ group approach is ideal as it engages smallholder farmers directly through farmers’ cooperatives. Further, the study recommends that farmers should organise themselves into a marketing and distribution cooperative in order to meet volume and distribution requirements of the NSNP.
This study concluded that the government – through its partnership with the private sector – could play a key role in the development of the local economy by assisting smallholder farmers to supply local institutional markets, such as schools. The NSNP project is strategically positioned to address these needs. More creativity is needed for projects, such as the NSNP, to impact on the lives of beneficiary communities. In addition, structural hindrances should be removed to facilitate more economic activity in previously disadvantaged communities. This could potentially reduce the scourge of unemployment in communities and also enhance nutrition, as well as the quality of education in South Africa.
Dissertation (MScAgric)--University of Pretoria, 2015.