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Farmyards to Restore Nutritional Value in Townships

Beneficiaries receive repurposed containers that are converted into local stores for local farmers to sell their produce to their communities.

Gauteng Social Development, Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment MEC, Mbali Hlophe, says the roll-out of farmyards will restore the lost nutritional value in townships, hostels and informal settlements.

The farmyard is an innovative concept largely targeted at youth and women. These beneficiaries receive repurposed containers that are converted into local stores for local farmers to sell their produce to their communities to bring into sharp focus a healthy diet.

There are about four farmyards in Gauteng’s townships equipped with the necessary equipment and infrastructure as part of the government’s project to revitalise the township economy to migrate Gauteng citizens from dependency on the State to self-reliance.

“This is about bringing back good health and nutrition to our townships. When you look at the stats at our disposal, they show that many people, especially children, are not eating nutritious meals required for their growth, daily. By bringing farmyards closer to our people, we are making sure people start paying attention to their health.

“We encourage the beneficiaries of farmyards to ensure they sell the kind of food that is required in a home-cooked meal, to provide nutrient-rich crops like spinach and moringa, and additionally provide proteins through the live or frozen chickens they sell,” she said.

This initiative, the MEC indicated, is also a direct response to the province’s relentless fight to ensure the province is food secure.

“Food security is one of our elevated priorities and boasts a basket of services available to ensure the province is food secure, and with regards to farmyards, we have identified subsistence farmers as enablers to help the province become food secure in a sustainable manner,” MEC Hlophe explained.

The food security baskets include a variety of programmes including food distribution through food banks, food parcels, Community Nutrition and Development Centres (CNDCs) and NPOs as vehicles to ensure the poor and vulnerable access sustainable, nutritious and safe food sustainably in line with policy guidelines enshrined in the National Policy on Food Nutrition Security together with Household Food and Nutrition Security Strategy approved by the Cabinet in 2013.

More importantly, the MEC indicated that while the initiative secures self-reliance and sustainable food security, it also responds to the joblessness challenge, especially for the youth in the province.

One of the young people who benefitted from the farmyard was 32-year-old Simangele Sibande.

For her, the farmyard enabled her to realise her entrepreneurial ambitions.

“The farmyard programme provided me with a wonderful opportunity to create my own business, to provide for my family and also show other young people that there are opportunities in agriculture. What is even more fulfilling is that I was able to employ two other young people to assist me in selling produce from local farmers in Zithobeni,” she said.

MEC Mbali notes that the project is gradually shifting the prevailing perceptions in the townships that agriculture is unattractive and associated with filth and frowned upon.

“A lot of people when they think agriculture, they think something far. But through the project, we have been able to show that agriculture is economically viable and that as a department, we remain committed to continuing to facilitate access to markets,” the MEC said.

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