Gareth Haysom

Gareth holds a Ph.D in Environmental and Geographic Sciences from UCT. The focus of his Ph.D was on urban food system governance. Gareth is the southern cities project coordinator for the Hungry Cities Partnership project at the ACC. He also works on the Consuming Urban Poverty research project.


A central theme running through my work is food. I left the food and related sector after 15 years to begin research into the food and related sectors. My initial work was in sustainable agriculture but as the research unfolded, it became clear that there were deeply entrenched systemic faults within the food system. Africa is urbanising rapidly and this presents a real development challenge. Linking Africa’s urban development and the food challenge is the primary focus of my work. Urban food security is an emerging field of study. My work challenges the notion that simply growing enough food will address the urban food security challenge. This challenge relates to both the national production oriented solutions to local food security initiatives that overlook the deep systemic problems in the food system. I am particularly interested in how the different scales of the food system interact and how food system governance is enacted at the different scales. The primary focus of my research is on the urban scale food system.


I have taught on a wide range of subjects including sustainability, sustainable agriculture, urban food systems and urban food security. I am current co convenor (with Dr Jane Battersby Lennard) of the post-graduate Urban Food Security module run in the Environmental and Geographical Science department at UCT. I teach on and facilitate the Urban Renewal module, part of the MPhil in Urban Infrastructure: Design and Management.




Journal articles


Haysom, G. (2015). Food and the City: Urban Scale Food System Governance. Urban Forum, Vol. 26(3). pp 263-281.


Frayne, B., Battersby-Lennard, J., Fincham, R. & Haysom, G. (2009). Urban Food Security in South Africa: Case study of Cape Town, Msunduzi and Johannesburg. Development Planning Division Working Paper Series, No.15, DBSA, Midrand.


Haysom, G & Ashley, C. (2006). From philanthropy to a different way of doing business: Strategies and challenges in integrating pro-poor approaches into tourism business. Development Southern Africa, Vol. 23(2). pp 265-280.



Book chapters


Haysom, G. (2015). The Philippi Fresh Produce Market: Misunderstood Development?, in Brown- Luthango, M. (ed.). in State/Society Synergy in Philippi, Cape Town. African Centre for Cities. Cape Town.


Haysom G. (2015). Urban scale food system governance: An alternative response to the dominant paradigm?, in Allen, A., Lampis, A. and Swilling, M. (eds). (2015). Untamed Urbanisms. Routledge, Oxon. pp 76-88.


Haysom, G. (in press). Agroecological farming and soil rehabilitation, in Swilling, M., Musango, J. and Wakeford, J. (eds). Greening the South African Economy. ‪University of Cape Town Press, Cape Town.


The Ithemba Farmers’ story of climate change and food security adaptation in Cape Town, South Africa – Housing versus food?, in Frayne, B., Moser, C. and Ziervogel, G. (eds.). (2012). Climate Change, Assets and Food Security in Southern African Cities. Earthscan, London. pp 132-149.


Haysom, G. and Metelerkamp, L. (2012). Agriculture – From vulnerability to viability, in Swilling, M., Sebitosi, B. and Loots, R. (eds). Sustainable Stellenbosch, opening dialogues. SUNMedia, Stellenbosch. pp 191-203.


Kelly, C., Schulschenk, J., Landman, A. and Haysom, G. (2012). Food – A sustainable system for Stellenbosch, in Swilling, M., Sebitosi, B. and Loots, R. (eds). Sustainable Stellenbosch, opening dialogues. SUNMedia, Stellenbosch. pp 102-115.


Urban Agriculture in the City of Cape Town, in Swilling, M. (ed) 2010. Sustaining Cape Town: Imagining a Livable City. Stellenbosch, SunMedia. pp 211-223.


Ashley, C. and Haysom, G. (2008). The development impacts of Tourism Supply Chains – increasing impact and decreasing our ignorance, in Spenceley, A. (ed). Responsible Tourism: Tourism, Conservation and Poverty alleviation in Southern Africa. Earthscan, London. pp 129-156.


Reports and media:







State of Knowledge review – The agrifood value chain, regulation, and formal and informal livelihoods:


Study commissioned by the NRF Centre of Excellence in Food Security


Research leader: Dr Shane Godfrey (LEP) & co-leader: Dr Gareth Haysom (ACC)


Project overview


The agrifood value chain is extremely complex. It comprises a variety of different products, and the value chains for these products have different input-output structures and different geographies. Governance of these value chains might follow similar contours but the details differ from chain to chain. The chains are embedded within national regulation that is common to all chains, but this begins to differ when one gets down to the product level and regional and local levels, where the roles of different stakeholders and organisations impact on the value chains in different ways. Adding to this complexity is the fact that existing research is fragmented, with a lot of detail on certain product chains or sectors, and detail on certain localities or region, and detail on formal or informal activities and actors, but little or no detail on other products, localities and activities.


The objective of the State of Knowledge review is to try to map what we know about the different aspects of the agrifood value chain, how deep the knowledge is, and where the gaps are. Besides providing a source of information, the review will give this information coherence, which will provide a foundation for future research. The foundation will be practical (i.e. what products future research focuses on and what regions) as well as conceptual (i.e. understanding the intersections of formal and informal chains). The intention is to use value chain analysis to provide a methodological framework to organise the review.


The second objective of the State of Knowledge review is to analyse the data that we have assembled in order to achieve certain goals and answer questions. The following are the types of questions that the review will seek to answer:

  • Which are the ‘lead’ firms in the value chains and how is power distributed along the chains?
  • How is the value chain restructuring and what are the drivers of restructuring?
  • What policies, programmes and agreements impact on the value chains?
  • What is the effect of these policies, programmes and agreements on the structure and functioning of the value chains?
  • What is the nature of the livelihoods of the participants in the value chains, in particular the employees and workers in the value chains as well as the self-employed?
  • What are the implications of the structure and functioning of the value chains for the food baskets of consumers?
  • What organization and intervention ‘on the ground’ is occurring to improve livelihoods and food security?


In each case these questions implicate both the formal and informal parts of the agrifood value chain. A key goal of the review will be to understand the connections and dependencies between informal and formal parts of the chain, what the implications restructuring of the chain has for the interaction between formal and informal, and what this means for livelihoods and food security.


A further goal will be to begin to sketch out the policy interventions that can be made to improve livelihoods and food security, taking account of existing initiatives.


This is a four-year research project. The project is currently in its first cycle and serves as the foundation for future research. This will entail a state of knowledge review, focussing on both formal and informal South African food system value chains.


See: https:[email protected]/Pages/CenterOfExcellence.aspx



Short cycle research projects:



A study of current and future realities for urban food security in South Africa:


Study commissioned by: The South African Cities Network


Research leader: Dr Jane Battersby Lennard


The South African Cities Network commissioned a study of current and future realities to urban food security in South Africa in order to assist cities in planning and policy development.


This study therefore provides analysis of available data on the extent, characteristics and future trajectories of urban food insecurity and the food system in South Africa, in order to generate policy recommendations that are appropriate to the urban context.


The study argues that by addressing food security through paying attention to the food system not only can food security be addressed in a more positive manner which will depend less on social safety nets, but also that a series of other urban benefits can accrue.


However, the study identifies a critical challenge to the cities planning and developing appropriate policy is the apparent lack of mandates for cities to address food insecurity. This study argues that by adopting a food system perspective it is possible to see a much wider role for local government and a wide suite of potential interventions.


The report is currently being peer reviewed and is expected to be available to the public in August of 2015.



City of Cape Town Food Security and Food Systems Study:


Study commissioned by: The City of Cape Town


Research leader: Dr Jane Battersby Lennard


The Terms of Reference for this study identify the challenge of food insecurity in the following manner:


“Food security or the lack thereof is the outcome of complex and multi-dimensional factors comprising a food system. Therefore, food insecurity is the result of failures or inefficiencies in one or more dimensions of the food system. This necessitates a holistic analysis of the food system that than can provide insights into the various components of the system, especially in our context as a developing world city. That analysis must also take note of the constitutional mandates of the tiers of government in South Africa, such as the legal mandate for food security that rests with the national government, in conjunction with various provincial departments. Local government, however, needs to understand food systems so as to make evidence-based planning and policy decisions that will have long-term impacts on their areas.”


In order to generate the evidence base to enable the City to make planning and policy decisions that will impact food insecurity the following questions were asked:


  1. What are the components of Cape Town’s food system? How effective is it? What are the points of weakness in the systems? What interventions would be needed to achieve and sustain effective food systems in the city? What are the key threats to the system in the future and what mitigation strategies are needed?
  2. What is the status of food security in the city? Which instruments should be used to measure food security and what are the appropriate indicators? Where are the food vulnerable residents located? What are their coping strategies?
  3. What are the areas within the city’s boundaries that contribute towards the food systems and food security in Cape Town? How do you quantify their roles as production centres for food? How significant are they for food security in the city?
  4. Who are all the role-players in the field of food security in Cape Town – whose roles are enshrined in official mandates and whose are more voluntary – to inform what role the Council would play, i.e. what should the Council’s response be to food insecurity?


The report addresses these questions and provides a set of recommendations based on its findings and from applicable lessons from around the globe.


The report is still under review by the Cape Town City Council.