Food security to fight poverty
The Gauteng government is planning to spend more than R100million on its War on Poverty programme.
The aim of the multi-pronged strategy is to try and get poor people, including schoolchildren, to grow their own food.
By doing this the department envisages that it will be able to complement feeding schemes and to beat the high cost of shopping for things to eat.
The War on Poverty programme, initiated by the Gauteng MEC for agriculture, conservation and environment, will also focus on needy farmers.
It will include programmes aimed at the rapid development of the production of niche-market agricultural products, including essential oils.
Animal and poultry farmers will also be targeted for assistance with agricultural infrastructure and equipment.
Working with the Gauteng education department, 515 of the poorest of the poor schools have been identified for assistance.
Reagile Primary School in Thembisa is one school where the Letsema-Ilima War on Poverty campaign has been launched.
Residents, teachers, pupils and the community development workers are being mobilised to take part in the Letsema-Ilima campaign.
The aim is to get parents and residents to come together to work the land and ensure that pupils in poor schools and poor communities produce nutritious food that will complement feeding schemes.
The food gardens will get seeds, gardening tools, shade nets and watering equipment as part of the package.
The intensification of the community and household food gardening projects will take place simultaneously with the initiation of school food gardens.
Participants in the programme will receive free inputs such as seeds and gardening equipment.
The envisaged food security projects will use the hydroponics farming method, which allows continuous food production uninhibited by seasons.
Needy farmers will also be assisted with fertilisers, environmentally friendly pesticides and, in some instances, assistance in getting access to boreholes for irrigation.
The grain production programme is expected to start this month to coincide with the planting season.
Areas within the maize triangle have been identified as places where the department will increase its support for farmers.
Other disadvantaged farmers, including the 117 farmers who are in the process of acquiring title deeds as a result of interventions by the department, fall within the department's target group.
After a needs analysis conducted by the department with the help of the farmers, the department is committed to assisting with the hiring of tractors, planters, harrows and other implements.
The mobilisation of farmers to appreciate and participate in the Letsema-Ilima approach has started.
The practical implementation of this area of the campaign is expected to start during the first half of this month.
The programme was launched in Thembisa, Ekurhuleni last month.
l The writer is the Gauteng department of agriculture, conservation and environment's media contact person