Welcome to the first edition of the Honeyguide Agri corporate newsletter! Over the coming months, we’ll be exploring a range of agricultural and agri-associated topics.

We’ll be delving into some of the industry’s hot button issues – which are bound to get conversations going. We’ll explore and share advances and developments being made in the fields of science, technology and policy. And in some instances, we’ll make suggestions, provide our opinions and even offer turnkey solutions. But firstly, a brief introduction...
Honeyguide is a small, privately owned group, founded in Germany in 2004.

Initially focused on IT and business management consulting for large multi-nationals in Europe, in 2008, the company’s focus shifted to investing and collaborating with SMMEs from emerging markets. As a result hereof, Honeyguide now operates in South Africa and the SADC region, where we strive to make a positive impact on economic and socio-economic development.

The company is positioned as a highly focused, long-term business partner to SMME who are intent on achieving efficiencies, sustainability and long term profitability. This models the German “Mittelstand” culture which Honeyguide now brings to Africa.

The German term “Mittelstand” refers to privately owned, highly efficient, small to medium enterprises, operating as dominant global players in valuable niches. These are the companies credited with being the backbone of the German economy, responsible for economic growth and stability! As one of these companies, Honeyguide aims to replicate this success story here in Southern Africa.

In this edition of the newsletter, our first article goes right back to basics with an introduction to one of the most basic human needs – food.

If you have any questions or feedback, we would love to hear from you!

Toni Shüping
Group Executive Manager
The Fear of Starvation
Tim Noakes, banting, cabbage soup, juice cleansers, the nothing-white / baby food / cotton ball diet... I promise that this is not another article on “Diet Trends for 2015” but I can almost guarantee that you’ve probably heard of at least one, if not all, of these terms. While they may differ, to a greater or lesser extent, as to what they advocate, they all have one thing in common – the voluntary restriction of caloric intake into the human body.

What about “food security”? Has this term made it into mainstream media as frequently as the others? I think not!

In 1996, the World Food Summit declared that food security "exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life" - albeit that they “exercise” their right to choose not to capitalize on this accessibility!
Food Security
No person in any country should have to wonder where something as basic as their next meal is coming from, or forgo food themselves in order to feed their children. However, in 2011 -2013, an estimated 845 million people, at least 12.5% of the global population, faced going to bed hungry on a daily basis. Food security presupposes the elimination of that high vulnerability to hunger and starvation.

In order to be considered as food secure, a nation must be able to produce enough staple foods or have the capacity to import food, if needed, in order to meet the basic nutritional requirements of its population.

The measure of food security is based on the following four pillars:
  • Availability: the supply of sufficient quantities of food through production, distribution, and exchange.
  • Access: sufficient physical and economic resources to access and acquire adequate quantity, quality and allocation of food in socially acceptable ways.
  • Adequacy (or Utilization): the quantity, quality and nutritional value of food available for metabolism by individuals, food must be safe and adequate enough to meet the physiological requirements of each individual.
  • Stability: stability of the first three dimensions of food security, the ability to consistently obtain food over an extended period of time and the resilience to withstand future disruption or unavailability of food.

There are a wide range of factors which impact negatively on one or more of these pillars reducing or greatly compromising food security. These factors can be divided into the following broad categories:

The Global Water Crisis
Climate Change
Weather and Natural Disasters
Land Degradation
Agricultural Diseases
Land Use Change
Political Instability
Re-distribution of Land
Corrupt Land Deals
Food Sovereignty
Rapid Population Growth
Shifting Dietary Preferences
Urbanization and Population Movement
Escalating Food Prices
Failed Market Regulation Policies
Trade Barriers
Southern African Solutions for a Looming Global Crisis
A convergence of factors has made the issue of food security critical and one of the most important global issues in many parts of the world. This is a complex, multi-dimensional issue with “no quick fix”. The current global food crisis is the consequence of many or any combination of these influencing factors, some which are easier to address than others.

Addressing the world’s hungry, eradicating the fear of starvation and combatting the challenges to food security has to be undertaken as a multidimensional approach.

Efforts need to be wide span encompassing policy, programs and action by all stakeholders including governments, businesses, aid organizations, agricultural organizations and even individual consumers.
In this article we’ve merely skimmed the tip of the complex and intricate iceberg that is “Food Security”. In follow-up newsletters we’ll address the factors affecting food security in greater depth, we’ll delve into strategies to overcome food insecurity and more closely examine South Africa’s position when it comes to food security.
Looking Back: The World Food Summit 1996
In 1996 The World Food Summit was convened to renew global commitment to eradicating hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition and to address the growing concern about the capacity of agriculture to meet future food needs.

During this summit The Rome Declaration on World Food Security and the World Food Summit Plan of Action were adopted by 185 countries. The primary goal was for members of the United Nations to work towards reducing the number of undernourished people in the world to half by the year 2015. So, how close have we come to meeting this noble goal?

Current data show that the number of undernourished people in the world is being reduced at a rate of about six million per year, unfortunately, this is well below the yearly target of 22 million necessary to achieve the World Food Summit goal.

According to the Global Food Security Update, we’re already halfway through 2015 and the situation looks extremely bleak:
  • In Syria around 6.8 million people need critical food assistance.
  • In Iraq, due to conflict, 5.2 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, and over 2.5 million people are currently displaced, leading to disrupted food markets and price hikes.
  • In South Sudan, 2.5 million people are facing Crisis or Emergency levels of food insecurity because conflict has displaced the population, reduced food production and disrupted markets.
  • In locations already vulnerable to food and nutrition security, floods have displaced 230,000 people in Malawi, 50,000 in Mozambique and 39,000 in Madagascar.
  • The Ebola epidemic in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone has disrupted markets and trade and led to increasing food insecurity with at least 1.2 million people already at Crisis level.
  • Conflict in northern Nigeria is leading to massive population displacement, disrupted markets and insecurity in bordering areas of Cameroon, Chad and Niger.
  • Kenya and southern Somalia have been affected by persistently drier than average conditions, compounding the effect of significant rainfall deficits during previous seasons.
  • South Africa’s first maize production forecast estimates the 2015 harvest to be the worst in 8 years, with a drop of 21 percent relative to the five-year average.
  • Drought in Central America has left 2.1 million people food insecure. The affected people will require more food assistance than usual until the next harvest in August.
Recent Efforts
Global food security is impacted by any number of constantly fluctuating dynamics and factors, some of which can be anticipated and addressed, other which are unforeseeable and unavoidable - often with devastating effect.

World leaders have been tasked with finding ways to achieve the World Food Summit goal, and to accelerate efforts in that direction. Some suggestions include increasing the resources available for agriculture and rural development such as the Feed the Future Program, while others, advocate AgriBEE with a certain measure of risk which, if handled, correctly, could actually contribute to overcoming food insecurity. The current situation does, however, beg the question: Should the security of one of the most basic human needs remain entrusted to politicians or is it time to stop waiting for the “fishy handout” and instead “learn how to fish”?
Bridging the Gap - From Theory to Gaining Traction
While policy provides a theoretical basis on which to tackle food security and politics throws a spotlight on the issue, the crux of the matter is that action brings about results. Whether it be digging in the soil at a community garden or transferring knowledge and skills to a newly empowered farmer, the power of “doing” makes us feel more in control and produces tangible results.

Science and technology do not have to be imposing, intimidating academic constructs. Basic things like sharing information via internet, email and mobile phone constitutes the use of technology. Sharing scientific developments such as fertilizers, new crop varieties and different agricultural techniques are things that are easily communicated.

Simply making research and development available in vulnerable areas could potentially assist in increased food production, increased health profile of food, increased food safety and so start the improvement of food security for those communities.

The “large” scientific and technological advances move progress forward in leaps and bounds, but small consistent, simple acts can also have a lasting effect.

Some further reading as food for thought:

Things of course are not all “doom and gloom” and so until next time, we end off our newsletter with something on the “lighter side”:

An agricultural salesman is visiting a farm with a view to flogging a new type of combine harvester. "No, sorry son," says the farmer, "my pig takes care of all the harvesting - I have no need for your fancy gizmo."

"Could save you money in the long-term" tries the salesman. "No, your combine would never match my pig's productivity - you should see him go - swishing away with that scythe." The salesman is intrigued about this pig and asks to see the creature. The farmer leads the salesman to an enclosure.

Standing within - tall and proud - is the most magnificent pig the salesman has ever seen. But the pig has got a wooden leg. "That sure is an impressive pig, sir, but why's he got a wooden leg?" asks the salesman. "This pig is more than 'impressive' mister - I'm sure he's unique! Do you know he can also drive the tractor!?" "Really? But why's he got a wooden leg?" "He drives our children to school and back!! - even helps them with their homework!!"

"I'm impressed" admits the salesman, "but why the wooden leg?" "THIS PIG is also a leading authority on organic farming; thanks to him we've managed to branch out, and now our revenue is higher than that of any other farm in this county!! "Yeah, yeah!! You've got one hell of a pig - I can see that by just looking at him - but why does it have a wooden leg!?" insists the salesman.

"Did I mention the publishing deals? This pig's just written a best seller - we're going to be even richer now!!" "Amazing, truly amazing - but why the WOODEN LEG!!!!!!!!!!"

The farmer looks admiringly at his pig and then turns to the salesman: Son, with a pig like this - you just DON'T eat him all at once."
Issued by Honeyguide Agri Division.
Honeyguide provides a portfolio of professional business development, mentoring and consulting services.
© Honeyguide Group (Pty) Ltd 2015.
All pictures CC © their respective owners.
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