Inclusive Merits of Immigrant Farming and Farmers in Urban Food Security


Food security is an essential component that symbolizes an ideal urban setting. A question comes into play: who and what are the contributing factors that can boost urban food security? Several factors can serve as a pillar in ensuring consistent food security within cities. Some of these include household income, microeconomies policies, income security as well as population increase as a result of migration processes. The migration process can happen locally or internationally. People move from rural to urban settings in search of better livelihood locally and also move from one country to another in which they predominantly occupy the cities. There is a link between food and migration as food is an integral aspect of culture which is a way of life.

Food security is a global phenomenon that has generated a lot of concern for the welfare of the population of a given geographical location about food because food is one of the necessities of life. The population of this given geographical location comprises different categories of people which include migrants. Migrants who might be temporary or permanent might not be included in the budget of the country in tackling the issue of food security. Migrants’ food security should be a thing of concern to account for this global food security because migrants are inevitable. After all, there is an ample number of reasons why migration takes place which is legally accepted. Looking at the experiences of Zimbabwean migrants in Durban, a show of what food security is all about should be put into question. Is their food affordable, available, accessible, adequate (sufficient, nutritious, quantity, and quality), constant (supply and production), and governance regarding food productivity?

The Narrative

Carefully submitting generated facts from these migrants, one cannot generalise and come to a general conclusion as these migrants are widely dispersed in different locations and their experiences vary. Based on the information gathered routing with the aid of mapping theory, research has shown that migrant food concerning these studies in Durban is affordable because the purchasing power is low. Considering the availability, it tends to be available depending on the location of residence because a reasonable number of the respondents affirm the availability of these vegetables at an immediate entry to Durban. Accessibility to these foods is moderate based on a routed area of coverage. Migrants have access to them in due course though sometimes at an extra cost, but they get what they wanted. The adequacy of their foods is reliable as they get sufficient of these foods and religiously enjoy the nutritional benefit of these vegetables leaving them a quality food in the right quantity.

One aspect that is enjoyed which is usually difficult in some instances is the stability of these foods. The supply and production of these foods are becoming rampant as more marketers and farmers are going into the business of these foods that include both migrants and locals. Governance concerning the productivity of these foods cannot account for but their experience with their foods can be commendable in Durban South Africa. Migrant’s activities are key to attaining urban food security as it has created a sustainable food supply and production within the confines of their geographical location.

Conclusively, juxtaposing migrant’s food security here in Durban with their home situation, with the experience of one of the respondents:

My foods here in Durban are accessible because they form a major part of groceries. They are also affordable, they are cheaper because here in South Africa we are using Rands, but we use US dollars back at home which is more valuable than Rands. With R200 I can stock all my groceries. Right back at home, we go through the stress to grow these foods but here we just work into the shops to get them without any stress.” (Field survey interview)

Looking at the comparison he provided, I can say the state and standard of living of some of these migrants here in Durban are better compared to way back as a result of the economic state of the country which may have contributed to the influx of these migrants in South Africa. Having ascertained the condition of these migrants, curiosity about the origin of where these vegetables are being produced, how it is being produced, how it gets to the market where these migrants buy, who are involved in the transmission of these vegetables, and how it gets to the plate has led to tracing these vegetables from consumers to the market where the vegetable is bought and to the farm where the production of these vegetables is being done. It can clearly be stated that migrant farming activities have an intriguing role to play in ensuring urban food security.


Femi Emmanuel Oni is an Agricultural Scientist researcher in the process of Registering for professional natural scientist (SACNASP) with a core interest in an interdisciplinary field. He is currently a PhD scholar in the Discipline of Agricultural Economics UKZN. He has a Bachelor of Agriculture from the University of Ilorin Nigeria and a master’s degree in Development Studies from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. His research interest spans on food and all interrelated subject which include agriculture, anthropology, education, economics, environment, health and nutrition, justice, communication, and sociology. He has also author articles in journals and books as well as attended conferences.

Femi Emmanuel Oni
University of KwaZulu-Natal