A Systems Analysis and Conceptual System Dynamics Model of the Livestock-derived Food System in South Africa: A Tool for Policy Guidance

Queenan, Kevin and Sobratee, Nafiisa and Davids, Rashieda and Mabhaudhi, Tafadzwanashe and Chimonyo, Michael and Slotow, Rob and Shankar, Bhavani and Häsler, Barbara (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. pp. 1-24. ISSN 21520801

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2020.094.021

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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