n Agrekon - Malthus revisited : long-term trends in South African population growth and agricultural output

Volume 55, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0303-1853
  • E-ISSN: 2078-0400
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The perils of population growth with regards to food security have long been studied by scholars such as Malthus (1798) and Meadows (1972). At the core of the debate are the current levels of global population growth and resource consumption, and its effects on living standards in the foreseeable future. While this is well explored in a global context, little research has been done to explore the long-term relationship between population growth and food security in the context of a particular developing economy, such as South Africa. This paper explores long-term trends in population growth and agricultural output in a South African context. Similar measures are also considered for various Southern African Development Community (SADC) member countries, as well as various top countries in the 2015 Global Food Security Index, to explore the relative position of South Africa (a developing economy). This paper shows that the South African per capita cereal production has steadily declined since the 1970s, while the opposite is true for the top countries in the 2015 Global Food Security Index, as well as the world on average. It also demonstrates the need to consider the state of food security of individual countries or regions (as opposed to a global view). Aggregate global data may obscure cases where a food security crisis is closer than anticipated and imported grains may become an increasingly volatile alternative.

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