City residents helped to grow their own food

Phillimon Machipa (L) and Emily Dikgale (R) of Blessings Co-operative in Diepsloot Extension Seven.
Phillimon Machipa (L) and Emily Dikgale (R) of Blessings Co-operative in Diepsloot Extension Seven.
Image: Supplied.

The City of Johannesburg’s Food Resilience Programme seeks to address urban poverty and food insecurity among residents.

According to Food Value Chain Sub-unit Head at the City of Johannesburg Simon Motsusi, the unit provides interested residents with the means to develop their own food gardens.

“We encourage residents to plant fruit and vegetables in their backyards, on rooftops or in open spaces near where they live,” Motsusi explains.

“We also support small, medium and large-scale farming co-operatives who wish to grow food to sell to the public,” he says.

The unit identifies suitable land and provides farming information, pest control support, access to implements and seeds, business advisory services and access to markets.

Motsusi says agricultural production increases access to healthy and nutritious food and can be used to generate income and agro-processing initiatives.

So far, Motsusi says over 9 100 small-scale food producers have benefited from the programme. Additionally, 52 urban farmers have managed to create income-generating projects within the city and over 7 400 indigent families have benefited from food banks across the city.  

Emily Dikgale (55) of Blessings Co-operative in Diepsloot Extension Seven says the unit helped them identify the five hectares of land they currently farm, after they were told to stop farming next to a local graveyard.

“After a couple of years, we officially registered our co-operative and made sure we had the necessary documents,” Dikgale explains.

The City of Johannesburg makes a tractor available to the co-operative, as well as others in the area, to assist with planting.

Blessings Co-operative supplies maize, sunflowers, pumpkin, butternut, spinach, chillies, cabbage, onion and tomatoes to locals and residents from nearby areas such as Alexandra and Germiston. Some produce is also sold to Food Lover’s Market in Fourways.

Dikgale explains that the co-operative has enabled its members to provide for their families and also offers future security because, according to the co-operative’s constitution, when members retire or pass away, their places may be taken by their child or another beneficiary.

Her colleague, Phillimon Machipa (77), says he has 13 unemployed children.

“This is the only stable source of income and a way I can ensure that my family does not go to bed on empty stomachs,” he says.

To find out more about the Food Resilience Programme, call 011 407 7485 or email simonmotsusi@joburg.org.za

-This article was originally published in the GCIS Vuk'uzenzele.

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