The issue of food insecurity and poverty has been a critical one since the dawn of democracy in South Africa. With the World Bank also, having set the 2014 target of halving poverty in developing countries, the South African government has found itself with a task of finding ways of contributing towards meeting this target. One approach that has been proposed by many as the best vehicle for addressing these challenges particularly in the rural areas has been that of channeling resources towards the uplifting of the smallholder agricultural sector. In addition to this, there is evidence that smallholder farmers can actually perform better if they pool their resources together and work as cooperatives. This paper therefore seeks to provide evidence of the importance of using cooperatives to empower smallholder farmers in an attempt to reduce poverty and food insecurity in South Africa. It further highlights the various challenges that need to be addressed to allow cooperatives to reach their full potential. The paper concludes by suggesting a few interventions that could be implemented in order to boost the smallholder farming sector’s cooperatives with the hope of helping the nation reduce its poverty levels and become more food secure.
Key words: Poverty alleviation, food security, agricultural cooperatives, smallholder agricultural sector, job creation.
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