YouthInHumanities: UP Development Studies Team Talking Food In Cape Town

Posted on June 18, 2024

From 22 to 24 May 2024 Dr Marc Wegerif and five development studies postgraduate students from the University of Pretoria attended and presented at the “10 Years of Excellence in Food Security Research and Advocacy” symposium held at the University of the Western Cape.

This symposium showcased research supported over the ten years since the Department of Science and Innovation, National Research Foundation, Centre of Excellence in Food Security (CoE) was established. Marc Wegerif presented on the overall Urban Food System project that he leads within the CoE, with a focus on the price tracking that is being carried out. This work shows that street traders are selling fresh produce at significantly lower (around 30% lower) prices than the formal sector. This make fruit and vegetables, which are essential for a healthy diet, more accessible to people in poverty.

Makhana Malungane shared the findings of her research on the Johannesburg Fresh Produce Maket (JFPM). The JFPM is the largest fresh produce market in the country, a key market for farmers, and an important source of stock, especially for thousands of informal traders who make their livelihoods selling food. Makhanana’s research shows how the JFPM functions through a complex mix of social and economic forces.

Tshiamo Setuke presented her research on the impact of Covid-19 on women street traders in Marabastad, Pretoria. These women faced numerous challenges during the pandemic, including being forced to stop trading for some time, harassment from the authorities, and carrying the main burden of childcare and other unpaid care work. While heavily affected very few of these women benefitted from assistance intended to alleviate the impact of Covid-19. Despite all this the women showed resilience as they survived and supported their families through Covid-19 and beyond.


Oscar Sithole spoke passionately about the contribution of mobile troller traders selling fresh produce door to door in Soshanguve. His research has found these traders make food far more accessible, especially for the elderly and disabled who find it hard to get to the shops. The trolley traders sell for less than the supermarkets, save the customers having to spend on transport, and sell on interest free credit to their regular customers.

Thato Mokgalagadi and Rejoice Mutema both presented their research plans in a session on effective science communication. Thato is at the early stage of her research on fresh produce retailing in Mahikeng and Rejoice is about to start her research looking at maize supplies to low income neighborhoods.


All of the UP team made a great impression with their high-quality presentations on important research for food security.

To make the most of the trip to Cape Town the team also visited the Cape Town Market that is a key hub for fresh produce distribution in the Cape. They also went to Langa township to meet data collectors who are part of the urban food system project and to visit a feeding scheme. From the on the ground experiences in the market and Langa, the team also spent an afternoon at a Food Equity Centre event with speakers from the United Kingdom, Brazil, and South Africa. While it was far too cold for swimming the visitors from UP did get to the beach to at least see the ocean that they are normally so far away from.


- Author Marc Wegerif, Development Studies Programme Coordinator

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