A Systems Analysis and Conceptual System Dynamics Model of the Livestock-derived Food System in South Africa

A Tool for Policy Guidance

  • Kevin Queenan Royal Veterinary College https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7066-6877
  • Nafiisa Sobratee University of KwaZulu-Natal
  • Rashieda Davids University of KwaZulu-Natal
  • Tafadzwanashe Mabhaudhi University of KwaZulu-Natal https://orcid.org/
  • Michael Chimonyo University of KwaZulu-Natal
  • Rob Slotow University of KwaZulu-Natal and University College London https://orcid.org/
  • Bhavani Shankar School of Oriental and African Studies
  • Barbara Häsler Royal Veterinary College
Keywords: Food Systems, Systems Thinking, System Dynamics, Livestock-Derived Food, Animal Source Food, South Africa

Abstract

Global food production systems are currently under scrutiny, in particular the health, nutrition, and environmental impacts of livestock-derived food (LDF). Despite South Africa’s recent socio­economic transformation and increased per-capita LDF consumption, the triple burden of malnutri­tion persists. Policy responses to such complex problems often fail because of linear thinking with short-term goals. However, a systems approach helps identify root causes, feedback mechanisms, potential unintended consequences, and opportu­nities for integrated, durable solutions. Participa­tion in the systems-thinking process improves stakeholder understanding and buy-in. Our par­ticipatory workshop facilitated the development of a systems map for South African LDF, identifying key system elements, linkages, and nexus points. The latter included climate change, land access and management, livestock management and produc­tivity, farming systems, food safety, policy articula­tion, agricultural knowledge, and income. Based on these findings, and an overview of related litera­ture, we produced a conceptual system dynamics model of the LDF system. We identified key vari­ables and causal relationships, vicious and virtuous loops, system archetypes, conceptual stock and flows, and links to Sustainable Development Goals. The LDF system is complex and dynamic, with a dominance of commercial enterprises across agriculture and food retail, presenting barriers for small and medium-scale individuals. Other key elements relate to population growth and urbaniza­tion, land access, deregulation of international trade, climate change vulnerability, feed production limitations, and food safety. Our work provides a unique reference for policymakers, identifying the need for deep structural change, highlighting the possible unintended consequences, and thereby mitigating the risk of system destabilization.

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Author Biographies

Kevin Queenan, Royal Veterinary College

Veterinary Epidemiology, Economics and Public Health (VEEPH) Research Centre, Department of Pathobiology and Population Sciences

Nafiisa Sobratee, University of KwaZulu-Natal

School of Life Sciences

Rashieda Davids, University of KwaZulu-Natal

School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences

Tafadzwanashe Mabhaudhi, University of KwaZulu-Natal

Centre for Transformative Agricultural and Food Systems, School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences

Michael Chimonyo, University of KwaZulu-Natal

School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences

Rob Slotow, University of KwaZulu-Natal and University College London

School of Life Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal; and Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment, University College London

Bhavani Shankar, School of Oriental and African Studies

Centre for Development, Environment and Policy

Barbara Häsler, Royal Veterinary College

Veterinary Epidemiology, Economics and Public Health (VEEPH) Research Centre, Department of Pathobiology and Population Sciences; and Leverhulme Centre for Integrative Research on Agriculture and Health

Published
2020-08-06
How to Cite
Queenan, K., Sobratee, N., Davids, R., Mabhaudhi, T., Chimonyo, M., Slotow, R., Shankar, B., & Häsler, B. (2020). A Systems Analysis and Conceptual System Dynamics Model of the Livestock-derived Food System in South Africa: A Tool for Policy Guidance. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 9(4), 275–298. https://doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2020.094.021