A world of opportunities opened up for City of Johannesburg’s urban farmers who gathered at Dlamini Hall in Soweto for the annual Joburg Food Expo.
The expo was in conjuction with the United Nations World Food Month celebrations. It is estimated that 805 million people worldwide live with chronic hunger, with almost five million children under the age of five dying from malnutrition-related causes every day.
The event served as a platform to share ideas and exchange best practices on how to make use of the land they own in order for them to be sustainable farmers. The expo (which was packed to capacity) provided an opportunity to exhibitors, private companies, government departments, and institutions of higher learning and industry suppliers to showcase their offerings.
MMC for Health and Social Development, Dr Mpho Phalatse, said the expo created a platform for all role players to showcase their work and interact with one another to achieve one objective of increasing food production and supply of fresh produce.
She said the event indicates that Johannesburg as a region is extensively involved in urban agriculture as a means to counter sluggish economic growth, bolster employment and make visible progress in eradicating hunger.
The City of Johannesburg’s Social Development department has initiated programs such as communal gardens, rooftop gardens, aquaponic projects, food empowerment zones and agri- resource centres with the intention to promote sustainable food production practices.
“It is important that we continue to seek solutions that will help us eradicate poverty amongst our communities. The statistics of those who go to bed hungry remains a concern. As the City of Joburg we have a dedicated Food Resilience Unit that assists our most indigent communities to grow their own food. The more people we empower to grow their own food in their small back yards and in communal land, we will be able to feed more people and contribute to the economy of the City,” said Phalatse.
Joburg Market CEO, Ayanda Kenana, told those in attendance that they need to organize themselves and begin to sell their produce beyond their communities through the Joburg Market. He shared statistics provided by Joburg Market which revealed an imbalance in the agriculture industry, indicating that Africans shared about 10% of the agriculture sector.
“It is important that we work together to change the face of agriculture in this country and we can only achieve the required results if we understand and commit to what we are doing. Joburg Market has the means to assist and build your capacity to grow your communal farms. Joburg Market trades across our neighbouring countries and its market reach is what you need to make success of your urban farms,” said Kenana.