Posts Tagged ‘South Africa’

Aug16

An Urban Gardening Initiative Greens Johannesburg Rooftops in a Bid to Tackle Climate Change

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By Ioulia Fenton

The Tlhago Primary Agricultural Cooperative has brought nature to the roof-scape of Johannesburg, South Africa. Since July 2010, the cooperative’s six organizers (two men and four women) have planted two rooftop gardens at the heart of the metropolis and, through outreach and educational activities, have transferred urban gardening skills to more than 100 people from local communities.

Rooftop Gardening (Photo Credit: Global Buckets)

“When people come to the city to look for a job they struggle because all that they are used to [in the countryside] is planting vegetables. The city does not have any land, so we show them how to grow on the roof,” said Tshediso Phahlane, Deputy Chair of the cooperative. Everything is planted using sustainable, organic methods and the gardens produce a wide variety of vegetables and greens, including cabbage, spinach, carrots, mustard leaf, and CM Kale (African spinach). The produce is sold to the rooftop gardens’ local patrons and additional income is secured from the preparation and sale of traditional medicines such as cough syrups, massage ointments, and herbal creams.

At the heart of the cooperative’s skills transfer program is the organization’s desire to educate people about climate change and empower them to take practical action. “Not everyone knows about climate change and it is our responsibility to do something about that. Farmers can see it happening all around them; it is uncharacteristically hot right now and they are worried about losing their seeds and harvests if October—the planting month—is too cold. So people are very open to listening to ideas and doing something about the problem,” said Phahlane.

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Aug07

Five Cities and the Organizations That are Making Them Green

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By Jenny Beth Dyess

Currently over half of the world’s 7 billion live in urban areas and according to the United Nations (UN), that number is expected to reach 65 percent by 2050. Dramatic population growth strains food resources and raises the challenge of feeding urban dwellers, particularly the poor. According to the UN, poverty is now growing faster in urban areas than in rural areas—there are currently 1 billion people living in urban slums.

Urban agriculture is cropping up in major cities worldwide. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

Today, Nourishing the Planet highlights five cities and the organizations that are helping these cities become food-sufficient.

1. Dar es Salaam: Over 45 percent of Tanzania’s 2.3 million unemployed people live in the commercial capital, Dar es Salaam. Studies by the Tanzanian Department of Rural Development and Regional Planning have found that there is significant reduction in poverty among residents who practice urban gardening in Dar es Salaam. In 2011, 68 percent of residents are growing food and raising livestock in the city. According to the International Food Policy Research Institute, 90 percent of vegetables and 60 percent of the milk supply are produced locally.

Dar es Salaam in action: The Mikocheni Post Primary Vocational School is training students how to make a sustainable living and grow food in the city. The vocational school has become a learning center for waste separation, composting, and urban farming. The composting chambers are built by the masonry students, the cooking and carpentry students contribute organic waste to the compost, and all students take turns attending the gardens. The school also offers free training seminars on composting to the local community.

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Jul30

Carissa: An African Fruit Could Become as Popular as a Cranberry

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By Julia Eder

Carissa is a shrub, climber, or small tree that can grow up to 20 feet tall and it is cultivated for its plum-like fruits. The berries are used mainly for processed products such as jellies, preserves, or syrup, but they are also eaten fresh. They contain a little more vitamin C than oranges, and are also a source for other vitamins, including Vitamin A and B.

Carissa plants are easy to grow and packed with vitamins. (Photo credit: Josie’s Focus on Flickr)

The species that is mainly produced is Carissa Macrocarpa, or Natal plum, named after a region in Northern South Africa where it grows. There, it is locally called num-num. The Natal plum is a significant commercial resource in South Africa where farmers sell them along the roadsides every January and February.

Carissa can be difficult to grow because the plant exudes a milky sap when cut or broken, which aggravates harvest and transportation of the fruits because they can easily be damaged. And the berries have a short shelf life because the sap congeals.

Carissa is also a popular and cultivated hedge plant because of its thick, dark glossy green leaves, its thorns, and the fragrant white to pink star-like blossoms. It has even become a valued ornamental plant in California and Florida. There, some plants have been selected and reared to have fruits as big as oranges and are grown on a height above the thorny foliage to facilitate the harvest. With further horticultural advancement, carissa can be useful in at least a dozen nations within Africa and in other parts of the world for economic profit.

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Dec08

Climate change will hit poorest the hardest

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Nourishing the Planet was recently featured in an article in South Africa’s News 24. The piece focused on the need for policymakers to focus on agriculture as a way of mitigating the effects of climate change, as they convene for the United Nations COP17 meetings.

According to project director, Danielle Nierenberg, “African farmers could sequester 50 billion tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere over the next 50 years, primarily by planting trees among crops, protecting forests, and keeping their soils planted with crops for more of the year.”

Click here to read the full article.

Holiday offer: To purchase a copy of State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet at a 50 percent discountplease click HERE and enter code SW1150. And to watch the one minute book trailer, click HERE.

 

Nov09

Nourishing the Planet TV: Locally Produced Crops for Locally Consumed Products

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In this week’s episode, research intern Isaac Hopkins discusses a collaboration between farmers in Zambia and a local brewery that uses the sorghum they grow to make affordable lager.

Video: http://youtu.be/eWqvdjJKo7o

To read more about sorghum farmers in Zambia, see: Innovation of the Week: Locally Produced Crops for Locally Consumed Products

Sep10

UN and African Officials Discuss Role of Agriculture in Rural Development

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By Kamaria Greenfield

In May, in Cape Town, South Africa, a panel discussion organized by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the South African Institute for International Affairs (SAIIA) met to address the future role of agriculture in rural development. Kanayo Nwanze, keynote speaker and president of the IFAD, outlined the main points covered in the organization’s Rural Poverty Report 2011.

It is fundamental to invest in the education that will allow future generation of farmers to bring themselves and their families out of poverty. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

“Agriculture offers enormous promise for Africa. Numerous studies show that GDP growth generated by agriculture is more than twice as effective in reducing poverty as growth in other sectors,” said Nwanze to the group of agricultural ministers and experts. He also expressed confidence in the ability of Africans to help themselves, saying that the transition out of rural poverty must be a transformation from within. “Change cannot be imposed from the outside. But when it is cultivated from within — with, as we say in agricultural development, some external inputs—then every tree and every plant will be able to root itself in its own soil and flourish.”

The new Rural Poverty Report indicates that over two thirds of people living in extreme poverty today (those living on less than US$1.25) live in the rural areas of developing countries. The report also highlights that four-fifths of households in these parts of the world do some degree of farming. With access to knowledge about better farming practices, these people could see a significant improvement in their quality of life. Nwanze emphasized the importance of giving impoverished people access to the resources they need, not seeing them as victims in need of endless foreign charity.

The Rural Poverty Report highlights four main courses of action: the overall improvement of rural environments, including infrastructure and governance; the management and reduction of agriculture-related risk; the education of populations about economic opportunities; and the support of collective endeavors, which increase security, power, and confidence.

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Aug06

Women farmers key to end food insecurity

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By Janeen Madan

It may seem surprising, but women are responsible for growing at least 70 percent of India’s food. Despite the enormous responsibility of feeding their country, women farmers confront numerous economic and cultural barriers every day because of discrimination.

Policymakers need to take women farmers in to consideration when making agricultural policies. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

In Uttar Pradesh, for example, a survey conducted by Oxfam-India found that only 6 percent of women own land, 4 percent have access to credit, and less than 1 percent has participated in government training programs. Improving women’s access to land tenure, extension services, credit, education, and inputs is essential to boosting agricultural production, lifting the women and their families out of poverty, and helping them combat hunger.

Studies have shown that when women’s incomes rise and they have improved access to credit and training they tend to invest more in the nutrition, education, and health of their family, causing a ripple effect that can benefit entire communities. In a country where 150 million children are malnourished and food prices are soaring, now is the time to ensure women receive the support they need.

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Aug04

67 Minutes to Feed South Africa

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By Matt Styslinger

Hunger is pervasive in South Africa, and thousands of domestic and international agencies and not-for-profit organizations are working—separately—to increase the country’s food security. In an effort to address this splintered approach to hunger relief in the country, the organizations Feedback Food Redistribution, Lions Food Project, Robin Good Initiative, and Johannesburg Foodbank agreed to combine their operations. As a result, FoodBank South Africa (FBSA) was born.

FBSA distributes food to 1,300 food aid agencies across South Africa that provide food to the hungry. (Photo credit: Urban Sprout)

South Africa has the largest economy in all of Africa and is an agricultural superpower, responsible for 15 percent of sub-Saharan Africa’s agricultural output. Even so, 20 percent of South Africans have insufficient access to food and nearly 30 percent are vulnerable to food insecurity. The problem is lack of access, not insufficient supplies. Every day, huge amounts of available food go to waste.

FBSA is leading a large-scale effort to establish food banks in communities with the highest concentration of food insecure people throughout South Africa. FBSA receives food from government agencies, farms, food manufacturers, food wholesalers, supermarkets, and individuals. The food bank then issues that food to 1,300 food aid agencies nationwide that provide food to the hungry. These agencies include orphanages, daycare centers, centers for the elderly, shelters, soup kitchens, and HIV/AIDS clinics.

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Jul28

UN Food Expert Calls on South Africa to Create “Inclusive Food System”

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By Dana Drugmand

The UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter, is encouraging South Africa to build a food economy that benefits the majority of the population, including the poor. “South Africa needs to create food systems that work for the poor and not only sell to the poor,” De Schutter said, speaking at the end of his official mission to South Africa. The Special Rapporteur recently made a visit, at the invitation of the South African government, to assess the country’s agricultural programs and policies.

Village in Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

South Africa is home to 12 million food insecure people, 70 percent of whom live in rural areas. These people have yet to see results from South Africa’s policies that put food security at the top of the government’s agenda, according to De Schutter. “The set of policies is encouraging, but the results still are below expectations,” he said.

In addition to opening up pro-poor food markets, De Schutter said that South Africa could use a new set of policies to set up local food systems that promote fresh and nutritious food and favor small-scale farmers. These small-scale farmers are marginalized in a market system that traces back to the Apartheid era. “In contrast to the large white commercial farmers, the newly established black farmers are small-scale farmers, with poor access to markets, a lack of marketing skills, and a weaker bargaining position in the food chains,” said De Schutter. One way to help these small-scale farmers is to develop incentives to encourage large commercial farmers to support emerging farmers. Commercial farmers, for example, could benefit by sharing their access to markets with emerging small-scale farmers.

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Jul28

Innovation of the Week: School food gardens support food security and education in the Cape Flats

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By Matt Styslinger

Southeast of central Cape Town, South Africa is a large, flat swath of land known as the Cape Flats. The area is home to around 4 million people and unemployment is around 40 percent. As many as 25 percent of students in the Cape Flats are undernourished.

SEED is working with students and teachers to establish permaculture food gardens in 21 Cape Flats schools. (Photo credit: Matt Styslinger)

South African non-profit organization School’s Environmental Education and Development (SEED) has established its Organic Classroom Programme in 21 Cape Flat schools. The project aims to improve food security in the Cape Flats by engaging students in environmental sustainability and teaching them how to practice permaculture—a holistic agriculture system that mimics relationships found in nature. SEED’s Organic Classroom Programme is a winner of the 2010 Sustainability Awards presented by Impumelelo—an independent awards program for social innovations in South Africa.

“Permaculture looks at ecological habitats and applies them to human habitats,” says SEED Permaculture Designer, Alex Kruger. Kruger says that sustainable food gardening is a starting place for students to learn about larger environmental sustainability issues. “It addresses an immediate need. And it also brings biodiversity back into these schools, which are quite barren.”

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