This World Food Day, marked annually on 16 October, we’re connecting the dots between agriculture, our wider food system and the multidimensional crises we face, which includes climate change.

© David Brazier/IWMI, Flickr

The industrialised food system, from agricultural inputs and production to consumption, transport and storage, feeds climate change, and climate change, in turn, impacts the food system, posing particularly dire challenges for smallholder farmers.

To address this urgent issue, a just transition that includes a shift to agroecological farming practices is needed to reshape our food system, bringing the interests of disadvantaged communities to the centre of interventions while protecting the ecosystems that sustain us and build food sovereignty.

The African Centre for Biodiversity, together with partner organisations, recently hosted the National policy dialogue on a just transition and adaptation in the food system in Ekurhuleni, with discussions on building a coordinated understanding and policy approach to a just transition in the local food system across sectors.

The National policy dialogue on a just transition and adaptation in the food system was held 20-22 September in Ekurhuleni, Gauteng.

Participants affirmed the realisation of the Right to Food as a core measure of the success of the food system. There was also strong support for promoting and enacting alternative approaches to build the local economy based on agroecology and food sovereignty.

Here’s what some of the dialogue participants had to say:

“Putting everything in the context of a just transition, especially the food system, there’s a lot that needs to be done. Food is what is at the core, and I believe that even if I am poor and in poverty, when I have food, at least I have power.”

Nqobile Masuku, Women’s Leadership and Training Programme

“One of the major takeaways is the link between the workers or the trade union movement with communities and civil society and building those partnerships to advance the just transition. Whether we like it or not, climate change is here and there is an unjust transition that we are already seeing happening within the energy sector, which has been the major focus of the just transition. But as we move into transitioning the agricultural space, we definitely need to build these networks that have started to emerge during the course of the week and keep it going beyond.

Melisizwe Tyiso, researcher, National Labour and Economic Development Institute (Naledi)

“One of the key challenges is how to involve more youth in civil society, agribusiness and farming, particularly in light of the current perception of farming as being unfashionable. Fortunately, the youth that were here are youth that are very active. You can see that they can pay attention and they can respond, and are not afraid to voice their opinions and that’s what we need. We need youth to be brave.”

Ludwe Majiza, permaculturalist, Eastern Cape

Smallholder farmers in our network also shared their views on agroecology and sustainable farming practices in the following videos.

Reinette Heunis from Suurbraak Aquaponics in the Western Cape, explains what agroecology means to her:

Lindani Zuma from Sweet Hill Organics in KwaZulu-Natal explains what agroecology means to him:

Maxabandile Mlauli from Sinako Sisònke Permaculture Cooperative in Mount Frere, Eastern Cape, explains why they want to inspire others to adopt permaculture, regenerative agriculture and agroecology farming practices:

Our Just Transitions fact sheet series, available in English, Afrikaans, isiZulu, isiXhosa and Sepedi, is available here. For more information on the national policy dialogue, click here for the concept note.