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​“The programme is ensuring that our families have food on the table … the training we received will ensure that we are able to manage our finance better and save money to develop our business.”

These were the words of emerging farmer Maria Sefohlolo after receiving a certificate from the City of Johannesburg’s Department of Social Development.

The City had a certificate handover ceremony for 46 emerging farmers on Wednesday, 6 June 2018. The farmers completed a financial management course. 

The ceremony marks a special moment for the Department of Social Development, which is leading the City’s pro-poor development strategy. The department, in partnership with stakeholders such as United Way South Africa (UWSA), is currently implementing an urban agriculture programme that is aimed at building the capacity of 300 farmers.  

The City’s urban farming programme is divided into three strategic pillars which are to provide training to the farmers, provide access to market and to mentor the farmers. 
The emerging urban farmers will contribute to the City’s goals to grow its economy by 5% and reduce unemployment by 2021. According to statistics provided by UWSA, about 27% of Johannesburg’s 4.8 million residents in 2016 (41% in poor neighborhoods) were food insecure. 

The emerging urban farmers can also make a meaningful contribution to curbing food insecurity and malnutrition in the City. 

According to Ann-Marie Hosang, the CEO of UWSA, only 10% of a R60 billion horticultural industry belongs to black people.

The emerging farmers that are being supported by the City have room to potentially grow exponentially. The City will provide more training to a targeted 300 cooperatives. The training will be accredited and is estimated to start in a couple of weeks.