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​City in bid to banish hunger

Johannesburg residents will by the end of this month be able to buy their fresh produce from the City’s Saturday Farmers’ Market.

The establishment of the market was one of the key outcomes of a two-day anti-hunger strategic meeting attended by food stakeholders, small and emerging farmers, as well as City of Joburg leaders and officials in Soweto at the weekend.

Hundreds of representatives of non-governmental organisations working with feeding schemes and soup kitchens, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation and Stop Hunger met at the Soweto Theatre to work on a common plan to banish hunger. The City’s Department of Social Development has identified a pilot site in the inner city for the establishment of the market.

Once the market takes off and demand grows, the concept will be rolled out to the rest of the city with the establishment of satellite markets. Consumers will benefit by sourcing fresh produce directly from small farmers.

Member of the Mayoral Committee for Health and Social Development Councillor Nonceba Molwele said the crucial two-day event was aimed at building and strengthening collaborative efforts to end hunger in our communities. “The Saturday Farmers’ Market was one of the key outcomes of the deliberations. The City, in partnership with the farmers, wants to create a market for the produce so residents can buy local and eliminate transport and middlemen costs,” she said.

Wandile Zwane, the City’s Executive Head of Social Development, added: “The city can’t do it alone. Friday’s gathering, for example, was to mobilise society to ensure we maximise the limited resources we have and work towards creating a city where no one goes to bed hungry.”

Research by the City has revealed that most people who run soup kitchens do so from their own pockets. “On Friday we pledged as the City to support existing initiatives and formulated ways of strengthening them by supplying them with produce from the City’s Food Bank, courtesy of the Joburg Fresh Produce Market, and create a single database of beneficiaries of food parcels in the City,” Zwane said.

The gathering was also in line with the City’s Growth and Development Strategy 2040’s Agriculture and Food Security priority, which is intended to generate employment and sustainable livelihoods, an important part of food security.

The City’s focus is on a multi-pronged approach. It includes supporting and providing incentives to enable small-scale growers to:

Provide a steady support of fresh produce from the urban food system;
Improve access to markets; and
Ensure that the City has various strategies and policies in place to realise the right to food.
“The meeting in Soweto formed part of giving life to the Agriculture and Food Security Programme and the larger food resilience agenda – one of the City’s 10 priorities aiming at addressing poverty and inequality by generating employment and sustainable livelihoods,” MMC Molwele said.

On Saturday – the second day of the meeting – City officials explained to hundreds of small-scale farmers from 70 cooperatives how they could take advantage of work packages available through the Jozi@Work Programme.

Another resolution taken at the gathering was the need for a follow-up meeting with the Joburg Property Company, Pikitup, Joburg Water, Department of Trade and Industry, Gauteng Agriculture Department and Gauteng Enterprise Propeller to see how synergy could be created to support small and emerging farmers in the City. One of the city’s successful partnerships in the fight to banish hunger is the multi-award-winning Bambanani Food and Herbs Garden Project.

The project was awarded the Mma-Tshepo Khumbane Award in 2011 by the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in the Best Community-Based Natural Resources Management Project category.

Bambanani, the result of collaboration between the City and the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, was registered as a cooperative in 2007.  The City provided it with vegetable seeds and land to develop the communal garden.

It also plays a supportive and facilitative role through project leadership and identifying participants from the poor household database.
For its part, the provincial department provided it with equipment, training and professional guidance. It monitors its progress on a regular basis.