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Welcome to DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Food Security


 DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Food Security


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​Goal and Approach

Food security and nutrition are imperative for human survival with dignity. Achieving food security must take into account economic vitality, social justice, human and environmental health. Our goal is to undertake research, capacity building and dissemination activities to promote a sustainable food system that brings about food security for poor, vulnerable and marginal populations. Our research is transdisciplinary and involves using innovative methodologies for high-impact science through understanding and taking action on complex societal problems. We adopt a partnership approach to the organisation of our activities by building purposive strategic relationships for the co-design and co-ownership of research problems, methodologies and solutions. Through a transformative agenda, we provide leadership, evidence for decision making and critique of policies and programmes aimed at reducing food insecurity. Our comprehensive and systems approach to development recognises the underlying causes of food insecurity such as poverty, unemployment and inequality.


Our work is carried out in four Thematic Areas:

  • Food CreationProduction, processing & preservation
  • Food  DistributionMarkets, livelihoods & value chains
  • Food ConsumptionHealth, nutrition, choice & behaviour
  • Food GovernanceSafety, standards, policy & rights​
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We are a virtual centre hosted by the University of the Western Cape and co-hosted by the University of Pretoria. Researchers in the Centre are drawn from Universities of Cape Town, Fort Hare, Johannesburg,  Nelson Mandela, North West, Limpopo, Stellenbosch and Venda, Tshwane

University of Technology, the Agricultural Research Council and the Water Research Council. Our international partners are the Australian National University, City University of New York, Institute of Development Studies, International Food Policy Research Institute,

Michigan State University and Missouri University.

The CoE Director Prof. Julian May works on poverty reduction including land reform, social grants, information technology and urban agriculture in Southern and East Africa. He formerly held the South African Research Chair in Applied Poverty Impact Assessment.

Prof. Sheryl Hendriks, the Node/Co-Director from the University of Pretoria works on household food security measurement, agricultural growth and food policy analysis. She is a member of the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition.

Research Questions

How is the global and national food system changing and how does this affect the sustainability, availability, access and attributes of food?

Who are the 'food insecure', where are they located, what are their choices, strategies and opportunities when seeking food security, health, and well-being and how do these change in response to the changing food system?

What policies, technologies, interventions and products enable access to affordable and nutritious food in ecological, economic, social and politically sustainable ways?


A call for the submission of project abstracts will be made each year. Proposers must be full time academic staff members of the collaborating institutions.

Projects must demonstrate that they will build transdisciplinary capacity in food security, encourage cooperation and collaboration, reduce competition for resources and harness partnerships to find solutions to food insecurity.

In addition to research, projects can include proposals for seminar programmes, educational processes, training, visibility actions and dissemination. Projects that are cross-cutting, multi-institutional and integrative are encouraged.

A fully justified budget and work plan covering the full duration of the project should be provided with the application. Bursaries for Honours, Masters and Doctoral students and Post-Doctoral fellows will be considered on a competitive basis.

Contact Us

University of the Western Cape

Robert Sobukwe Rd, Bellville, Western Cape

Jacqueline Tamri 021 959 3818​

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Launch Event

View DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Food Security​ Launch Event​

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Contact Centre

University of the Western Cape,
Robert Sobukwe Road,
Bellville, 7535,
Republic of South Africa | +27 21 959 2911