1st Edition

Food Sovereignty and Urban Agriculture Concepts, Politics, and Practice in South Africa

By Anne Siebert Copyright 2022
    174 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    174 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book analyses the interplay of urban agriculture and food sovereignty through the innovative lens of the "critical urban food perspective". It focuses on the mobilisation of urban food producers as a powerful response to highly exclusionary dynamics in the agri-food system including insufficient food access and disastrous land dispossessions.

    This volume particularly aims to fill the gap in the current literature by engaging with food sovereignty discourses and movements in urban areas. Related activism of urban food producers in the Global South remains underrepresented in practice and in literature. Therefore, this book engages with the lived realities of an urban agriculture initiative in George, South Africa. Building on theoretical notions of the "right to the city" and "everyday forms of resistance", the book illuminates how deprived food producers expose inequalities and propose alternatives. The findings of in-depth empirical research reveal that dwellers perceive farming as a mean to overcome historical segregation, high food prices, and unhealthy nutrition. Hence, they breathe life into food sovereignty in practice and suggest further alliances beyond the city.

    The book will be of interest to scholars and students of alternative food politics, agrarian transformation, and food movements as well as rural-urban intersections.


    1 Why food sovereignty in the city matters now

    Confronting the dominant agri-food system

    Urban agriculture, exclusion, and calls for food sovereignty

    Analytical framework: critical urban food perspective

    Research approach

    Overview of the book

    2 Rethinking South Africa’s agri-food system: Notions of food sovereignty and urban agriculture

    South Africa’s commercialised agri-food system

    Food sovereignty in discourse: roots, actors, and challenges

    Initial challenges

    Incipient attempts towards food sovereignty

    Further endeavours and urban issues

    Notions of urban agriculture and introduction of the case study

    Concluding remarks

    3 Exposing marginalisation: Food and farming in the city

    Initial mobilisation

    Socio-economic backgrounds

    Different types of urban agriculture and microhistories

    Organisation and cooperation

    Critical reflection of the prevailing nutrition landscape

    Concluding remarks

    4 Proposing food sovereignty

    Local access to nutritious food

    Valuing food providers

    Access to land

    Community knowledge and skills

    Biodiversity and connection to nature

    Concluding remarks

    5 Politicising alternatives from below

    Uncovering political dimensions and rights to the city

    Growing food sovereignty across the rural-urban divide

    Creating changes within and beyond the existing system

    Concluding remarks

    6 Conclusions: Urban South Africa and beyond

    Critical urban food perspective

    Lived realities of food producers at the urban margins

    Political dimensions and food producers’ agency

    Trajectories of food sovereignty and alliances



    Anne Siebert is a postdoctoral researcher and lecturer at the Institute of Development Research and Development Policy (IEE), Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany. She obtained a joint PhD degree in International Development Studies from the IEE and the Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Her research experience and interest revolve around food politics and social movements, and how these have shaped dominant agri-food systems, governance, rural-urban interlinkages, as well as research methodology.