06 Sep eThekwini Municipality, SA Food Lab partnership aims to strengthen local food networks impacted by Covid-19
Article by Karen Singh
DURBAN – EThekwini Municipality has partnered with the South African Food Lab to promote agro-ecology hubs in the City, stimulate food security and agriculture among communities to mitigate against the impact of Covid-19 on local food systems. The City said the aim of the partnership, which was unanimously supported by the Community Services Committee on August 23, between the City’s Agro-ecology Unit and SA Food Lab is to strengthen local food networks for a food systems transformation.
The City said the programme was piloted at the Inchanga agri-hub because there are several already existing farmer collectives supported by the hub as well as existing agro-ecology.
Chamane said the pilot study is focused on deepening the practice of agro-ecology and nutrition-sensitive agriculture as well as assessing the understanding and interest in the consumption of fresh produce in local communities.
He said that the project, which sets out to improve the potential for good nutrition in communities, 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.
The pilot’s main objective, according to Chamane, is to sustain a demand for nutritious, healthy foods produced using agro-ecological practices.
“If successful, this programme will be rolled out to the six other agri-hubs in the City,” added Chamane.
He said the project’s next steps include initiating a support programme to farmers as well as exploring the possibility of growing more nutritious dense vegetables including indigenous and traditional plants.