A System Dynamics Model for Subsistence Farmers' Food Security Resilience in Sub-Saharan Africa

A System Dynamics Model for Subsistence Farmers' Food Security Resilience in Sub-Saharan Africa

Benedict Oyo (Department of Informatics, Tshwane University of Technology, Pretoria, South Africa) and Billy Mathias Kalema (Department of Informatics, Tshwane University of Technology, Pretoria, South Africa)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/IJSDA.2016010102
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Abstract

Food security at subsistence farmers' level in sub-Saharan Africa has become an issue of concern due to increasing vulnerability caused by a number of factors such as: changing climate, resource scarcity (e.g. land and inputs), environmental degradation (e.g. declining soil fertility, deforestation, and surface water eutrophication), market failures and weak public/donor support initiatives. In light of these challenges, farmers must be prepared to survive by self-provisioning. To pursue the fastest and most practical route to improved food security, focus should be on resilience based initiatives at household and community levels. In this paper, the authors investigate the factors that have enabled subsistence farmers to succeed despite the previous shocks and stresses, and develop a system dynamics model for sustainable food security based on initiatives exclusive to the farmers. The model is used to examine the question: how can innovative subsistence farmers engage in better livelihood and market orientated production irrespective of external public or donor support?
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1. Introduction

Worldwide, over 850 million people do not have regular access to the minimum calories they require on a regular basis, and most of those are in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa (Hammond & Dub, 2012). At the same time, the subsistence farmers are most vulnerable to any shocks to their agricultural system which is the sole source of their livelihoods. These farmers are not only isolated and deprived of access to safety nets but are frequently exposed to pest and disease outbreaks and extreme weather events, which cause significant crop and income losses and aggravate food insecurity (Chauvin et al., 2012; Oyo, 2013). While agricultural growth has been the precursor to the acceleration of industrial growth in a number of emerging economies such as China, Brazil, and India, for sub-Saharan Africa, current agricultural productivity is low and there have been numerous failures in getting agriculture moving (Chauvin et al., 2012).

In contrast, the literature is rich with case studies where productivity led agricultural transformation is playing a significant role in economic transformation in general and making agriculture an important driver of growth in Africa (Thompson et al., 2007; Baiphethi & Jacobs, 2009; Haggblade, 2010; Africa Progress Panel Policy Brief 2010; Settle & Garba, 2011; Chauvin et al., 2012; Oyo, 2013). Studies have found that agriculture has been the engine of growth in most developing countries with causality running from agricultural growth to economy-wide growth in most cases, and that even small variations in agricultural productivity have had strong implications for the rate and pattern of economy wide growth (Chauvin et al., 2012). Furthermore, agricultural growth can provide the economy with much needed stimuli such as capital, labor, and foreign exchange to finance and fuel growth in non-agricultural sectors (Fan et al., 2013; Stave & Kopainsky, 2014).

In order to articulate the key issues in this paper, we provide definitions of key terms as outlined in Table 1.

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