Building agricultural resilience to climate shocks and pandemics in South Africa and the wider continent

Ndumiso Mazibuko completed a six-month fellowship at Chatham House and the University of Leeds.

When he was growing up in South Africa, Ndumiso Mazibuku’s grandmother sparked his interest in the agriculture sector. He later studied in the North West where he quickly recognised the differences between smallholder and commercial farming.

“Seeing how different farming enterprises are in the smallholder basin and how things were being done by commercial farmers in the Free State gave me an interest to understand why the enterprise is so different,” he said. “It gave me personal insight into the differences and challenges for smallholder farmers, and an interest to understand how different systems work (more commercialised vs. subsistence) and how that contributes to food systems.”

He obtained his PhD in Agricultural Economics from the University of South Africa in 2017, and was named one of 200 Young South Africans playing a key role in driving education in the sector in 2020.

Building resilient and better food systems

Inspired to help subsistence farmers build resilience to climate change and drive evidence-based policymaking in the sector, he became an AFRICAP Fellow in January 2021. During his Fellowship, Ndumiso looked at the impact of climate change on food security in historical perspective and, more recently, on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on accessibility in hard-to-reach areas.

His work seeks to improve resilience to such shocks in future and improve food security in South Africa more generally: It is about “promoting household food security, not just at a national level; ensuring more and more people can access food at the household level; and looking at how we can come up with better food systems and recommendations.”

The Fellowship offered him an opportunity to learn career-boosting skills in research and policy-advocacy, as well as leadership skills gained through the Chatham House Leadership Academy – the highlight of Ndumiso’s time on the programme!

Translating his AFRICAP experience to his work at the National Agricultural Marketing Council in South Africa

Ndumiso is a Senior Agricultural Economist at NAMC, where he has worked for the past decade after gaining experience in the private sector. In the short-term, he is confident that his AFRICAP experience will contribute to the revision and implementation of “climate-proof” agricultural plans in South Africa. In the longer-term, he can ensure that climate change is at the forefront of policy development and advocacy in the sector.


Watch AFRICAP’s latest webinar with Ndumiso and Agatha Kiama on our website here.