Food Shortages by 2050?
by Zanele Majebe
The increasing number of people around the world drives up demand for food. According to Food and Agriculture projections: by 2050 population and economic growth will result in a doubling demand for food globally. Food insecurity is one of the consequences of population growth in Africa. Becoming self-sufficient by creating community gardens has been one of the solutions proposed to combat food insecurity in poor communities. Initiatives led by the South African Government, NGOs and Corporate Social Investment sectors have contributed to poverty alleviation and improved food security by supporting the development of sustainable food gardens.
The Department of Social Development has assisted in establishing more than 200 food gardens across the city of Cape Town. I visited Masiphile, one of the gardens that benefited from this programme. Nobantu Gwabeni started in 2002 at Luhlaza High School but because of space challenges and the demand for fresh vegetable from the community she soon had to look for a land.
Patricia de Lille to the Rescue
The City of Cape Town Mayor, Patricia de Lille, came to the rescue by assisting Mrs Gwabeni in obtaining a lease for some land which she identified in Khayelitsha. The Department of Agriculture provided the Masiphile garden members with resources such as containers and fencing, a borehole and seedlings.
In support of this great initiative the Department of Social Development under the auspices of the Expanded Public Works Programme asked the Masiphile community garden to find and train 40 unemployed youth to assist in the garden. They also provided Masiphile community garden with tools, containers and compost.
City of Cape Town Social Development Department
I spoke to Mr. Nokwaza from the City of Cape Town Social Development Department to elaborate more about the programme and this is what he said.
‘’This initiative is part of a broader poverty alleviation programme; the intention is to assist particularly poor communities. We have so far supported 85 community gardens and 28 gardens based in Early Childhood Development and schools. We also offer advice to the community in terms of how to go about starting their own food gardens. Within those communities we have then identified those with skills that can assist start up food garden initiatives in other communities.’’
One of the challenges that Mrs. Nomonde Khweza, the coordinator of food garden for Khayelitsha and Gugulethu highlighted, was the lease agreement documentation which has proven to be a major setback in the progress of these gardens. ‘’We have engaged with a number of Corporates who have been willing to assist but unfortunately we do not have the lease agreement document in hand as the proof that we been given the land legally’’.
Mrs. Gwabeni added that sanitation is another everyday challenge that they are faced with. “We bought our own system but we have been refused permission by the Municipality to build our own toilets. We have tried our best to raise the matter with the Municipality officials – unfortunately the matter has landed on deaf ears.” Despite this the Masiphile women still remain positive about the matter and working towards to make a difference in their community.
Putting our heads on the sand will not solve any challenges ahead of us. Organic gardens do not only provide chemically free vegetables for the community, they save money, improve nutrition and promote mental health and a healthy lifestyle by increasing physical activity.
Gondwana Alive promotes green gardening as a tool for addressing food insecurity but also as a tool for creating sustainable jobs for the increasing number of people around the world. As well as the pivotal role green gardens can play in skills development and urban conservation, they serve as stabilizing vehicles in promoting social development and cohesion.