As thousands of delegates converge on Johannesburg for the World Summit on Sustainable Development, 13 million people face severe food shortages and famine in the neighbouring countries of southern Africa. This crisis has many causes. One cause is the failure of 15 years of agricultural reforms designed by the World Bank and IMF to deliver agricultural growth and food security. The international community must address the immediate food needs of the people of southern Africa. They should also embrace a new approach to agricultural policy-making that puts food security and poverty reduction first.