In whose interests? Water risk mitigation strategies practiced by the fruit industry in South Africa’s Western Cape

Nora Lanari, David Bek, Jill Timms, Lyndon Simkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
5 Downloads (Pure)


This paper investigates the strategies export-oriented agricultural firms use to mitigate water risks. By doing so, we respond to a gap in Global Production Network (GPN) scholarship, whereby the relationships between economic production and the natural environment have received insufficient attention. We build on GPN 2.0′s formulation of environmental risk as a causal driver of firms’ strategies, combining it with the concept of water stewardship. Empirical evidence is drawn from the export-oriented fruit industry in South Africa’s Western Cape. We find that while current water risk mitigating strategies are successful in securing water for fruit producers, these also have negative impacts on the wider South African water governance regime by depoliticising water allocation. In post-apartheid South Africa, this is deeply problematic. Our findings emphasise the imperative for research to consider the wider socio-political and ecological context when evaluating firm strategies to mitigate water and other environmental risks in South Africa and beyond.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-114
Number of pages10
Early online date5 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2021

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We are grateful for Coventry University’s support for this research.


  • Global Production Networks
  • Sustainability
  • Water Risks: Horticulture
  • Western Cape

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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