City partners with SA Food Lab to stimulate agrarian development

Article by Nonduduzo Ngconco

To stimulate food security and agriculture among communities, the Municipality has formed a partnership with the South African Food Lab to promote the concept of agro-ecology hubs in eThekwini.  The collaboration between the City’s Agro-ecology Unit and SA Food Lab aims to strengthen local food networks for a food systems transformation.
The partnership was unanimously supported by the Community Services Committee on 23 August.  Presenting the partnership to the Committee, Agro-ecology Unit Head Sibusiso Chamane said they are currently implementing the Woza Nami pilot project with SA Food Lab at the Inchanga agri-hub. This is expected to conclude in August 2022.
Chamane said the pilot study focuses on deepening the practice of agroecology and nutrition sensitive agriculture as well as assessing the understanding and interest in the consumption of fresh produce in local communities.
He said the Woza Nami project provides nutrition education to specific target groups and stimulates demand for nutrition dense produce grown by small-scale farmers linked to the hub.
“SA Food Lab is offering their knowledge and experience to assist us foster innovation and experimental action towards a thriving and sustainable food system. This is critical after the immediate impact of the Covid-19 pandemic which led to local food systems being disconnected. This in turn impacted on the ability of farmers to produce and sell goods,” said Chamane.
He said the pilot’s main objective is to sustain a demand for nutritious, healthy foods produced using agroecological practices. This will be done through undertaking several studies including understanding the neighbouring community, use of indigenous and traditional plants as well as assessing children’s preference for dishes.
“If successful, this programme will be rolled-out to the six other agri-hubs in the City,” he said.
The programme was piloted at the Inchanga agri-hub as several farmer collectives the hub supports and the basis for agroecology already exists there.
“The next steps of the project include initiating a process of support programme to farmers and exploring the possibility of growing more nutritious dense vegetables including indigenous and traditional plants,” concluded Chamane.
Article first published on 31 August 2021
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