Agriculture and Food Sovereignity

In August 2012, a delegation from Rhodes University addressed local farmers at Fort Cox Agricultural College about opportunities for small farmers in providing fresh produce & processed foods to the University’s dinning halls. These halls provide 3 meals a day to 5,000 students for 9 months a year (a total of 135,000 meals).

We are working with local small farmers to ensure that they can provide part of this food. Already, the Seven Stars Cooperative (working from the old “dairy scheme” just outside the Keiskammahoek CBD) produces at least 10,000 litres of milk from irrigated pastures. The Zanyokhwe Central Cooperative produces vegetables from some 200ha of irrigated land with a potential of reaching another 300ha of irrigated production. Beyond the Zanyokhwe Central Coop, there is another 1,000ha of fertile arable land that can return to productive agriculture. To achieve this goal, Ntinga Ntaba kaNdoda also works with the following cooperatives: Fort Calata Goat, Sinenjongo Poultry, Zizamele Agricultural, Vuka Dliso Farmers & Burnshill Baking. We provide training, advice on registration, linkages with extension officers & volunteer trainers. From January 2014, we will host 4 Agricultural College graduates & current Agricultural Science students from Fort Hare who will work with local farmers. There is a need for many more cooperatives in agriculture & agri-processing.

To date, we have identified the following potential areas for agriculture, agri-processing & timber-based enterprises:

  1. Vegetable & maize production;
  2. Processed vegetables (chopped & cut vegetables, pickles & preserves);
  3. Indigenous herbs & other herbs for essentials oils’ extraction;
  4. Red meat, poultry & piggery & dairy products (local sales, dried meats, sour milk, yoghurt, cheese, eggs, bacon & parts);
  5. Beekeeping for honey, mead (iqhilika), beeswax for hair products & candle-making;
  6. Leather tanning;
  7. Timber, charcoal & biomass for biofuels from the black wattle & thorn trees.

These activities will help ensure that local communities achieve food sovereignty without depending on outside or purchased food sources for their healthy living. Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to control their own food & agriculture. Food sovereignty requires protection from unfair outside competition. It is about an agricultural system that protects the rights of local communities to safe, healthy & ecologically sustainable production. In addition to producing healthy food for own consumption, local production should also provide a marketable surplus. Our initial projections show a minimum of 500 local jobs in the above activities. This will require investment in planning, skills development, extension services, provision of agricultural inputs & access to finance for a minimum of 100 small farmers in the 13 villages where we work. To kick-start the above, we plan to start a Keiskammahoek Women’s Solidarity Economy Fund to financially empower local women with a revolving local loan fund. We require an initial seed grant from which to grow & sustain such a local fund.

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