Alison Barr, Hlanzeka Mpanza and Anja Lategan are the first three MSc graduates with post graduate qualifications in Food and Nutrition Security from Stellenbosch University (SU). The Food and Nutrition Security programme was launched at the university in 2017.

Mpanza is a nutritionist, while Barr and Lategan are food scientists. They received their MSc degrees during the University’s April graduation ceremonies.

The programme provided them with a broad, comprehensive take on health matters and the role of adequate nutrition. It was devised to help policy makers and practitioners in different sectors make better decisions about issues related to food provision and food security.

The programme has 12 modules and a research assignment and does not require students to be on campus full-time. Coursework is presented jointly by the SU Faculty of AgriSciences’ departments of food science and of agricultural economics, and by the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences’ department of interdisciplinary health sciences (human nutrition division). Only fifteen students a year are selected.

According to programme leaders Prof Xikombiso Mbhenyane of the SU human nutrition division and Prof Gunnar Sigge of the SU department of food science, issues around food and nutrition are complex and multidisciplinary by nature, because human livelihoods are at the heart of it.

“The MSc in Food and Nutrition Security programme aims to equip students to see the holistic nature of food and nutrition security, to take all factors into account and to propose solutions to specific problems in the food system while keeping the bigger picture in mind,” explains Prof Sigge. “The programme aims to bring together the natural, social and nutrition sciences to address these issues.”

Capetonian Alison Barr worked in the field of food quality and food safety before embarking on her MSc. She is serious about food equality in terms of rights and access to food, ways to support industries and to optimise value chains so that sustainable food systems can be created.

“The range of modules that make up the course gave me well-rounded exposure to all the aspects impacting food and nutrition security,” she explains.

In her research project, Barr investigated the competitiveness of the local wine sector, and learnt about aspects of agricultural economics. Anja Lategan’s research project was about the nutritional value of insects, and whether food products made from insects containing iron, zinc, vitamin A, folic acid and iodine could solve people’s nutritional needs.

“The skills that I obtained through my studies, such as critical and analytical thinking, report writing and how to collaborate with people, are of great value in my career,” states Lategan, who lives in Kuils River and recently started a new job in Bellville.

Nutritionist Hlanzeka Mpanza works for a multinational food company in Durban. She decided to follow the programme to gain more insight into the broader decisions made about food that influence sustainable change.

More information about the MSc programme in Food and Nutrition Security:
  • Online applications for the 2020-intake closes on 31 August 2019 (for international candidates) and 30 September 2019 (for South African candidates). To apply, visit Stellenbosch University’s Prospective Postgraduate Student website (
  • To qualify for selection, you need a relevant BSc degree in the science (3 years) and an honours degree, or a BSc Agriculture degree or a four year degree in Health Sciences with a minimum pass mark of 60%, or a bachelors or honours degree that has been approved by the Senate on level 8 of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF), with the same pass mark as mentioned above.
  • For more information, view this brochure.
  • For more information about the programm content, contact Prof Gunnar Sigge ( or Prof Xikombiso Mbhenyane at (
  • For general inquiries, contact Julia Harper (– Engela Duvenage, Stellenbosch