Support to subsistence farmers to build food security

During the Covid pandemic, the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Developmetn (DALRRD) provided subsistence farmers with production input vouchers, to help them back into production.

Lockdown meant they had to innovate to create digital application processes – with vouchers issued on farmers’ phones. This enabled rapid outreach, getting support straight to where it was needed.

Now, in collaboration with the Provincial Departments of Agriculture and social partners, it is also providing complementary forms of support to about 62, 709 subsistence and smallholder producers, with area- based support groups, to strengthen self-employment and food security.

The Food Lab has partnered with the Seriti Insitute to convene and facilitate several Social Employment Fund groups within the Inchanga area. Up to 100 youths have been involved in various activities pertaining to agroecology and greening of the environment, receiving training in agro-ecological practice and principles as well as issues around ecological rehabilitation. The SEF programme remains an important pillar of the Inchanga agro-ecology hub underpinning Woza Nami.

Masakhane’s Mushroom Queen


Zokhanyo Bikani – known as Zozo – used the voucher she received from DALRRD to augment her mushroom farming business in Makhane, near Gansbaai, which supplies local restaurants and hotels. When talking to DALRRD she was very specific: she only wanted organic pesticides and insecticides because she cares about the environment.

Zozo has been trained by Grootbos Foundation in community education, organic methods and permaculture. In her work with small groups in the nearby communities of Gansbaai, Pearly Beach and Stanford, she champions the importance of adapting farming methods to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

To date, a total of 183 292 agricultural production inputs vouchers have been issued to subsistence producers. This has included training a group of women to grow and process herbs for medicinal purposes – including indigenous ones.

When DALRRD faced challenges reaching voucher recipients in the area because they had changed their cell phone numbers, Zozo solved the problem. According to DALRRD’s internal report, ‘She knows everyone who owns a vegetable garden. She literally took DALRRD officials house to house with ease and willingness to find PES beneficiaries.’

Food Security Matters

Wherever the Employment Stimulus is supporting community-driven activity, food security emerges as a critical issue – with diverse linkages to DALRRD and to provincial departments of agriculture.

So, in the Social Employment Fund (SEF), support to food security includes the following:

  • establishment of over 6,700 community gardens,
  • an aquaponics roof-garden in Hilbrow,
  • meals for children at ECD centres,
  • older farmers mentoring younger ones to grow indigenous plants organically,
  • establishment of Heirloom seedling nurseries,
  • many interventions to improve agricultural outcomes and facilitate access to markets, and
  • partnering with local provincial departments to host Farmers’ Markets.

And as part of City PEPs, eThekwini has supported community gardens in rural wards, in partnership with the provincial department.

Learn more about the Presidential Employment Stimulus here.