Searching for Nutrition in South Africa’s Food Maze

searching for food nutrition

Christopher D’Aiuto – a soil scientist and Harvest of Hope-production coordinator helps women under Abalimi Bezekhaya pack fresh produce. Credit: Astrid Stark/IPS

CAPE TOWN, Nov 24 2015 (IPS) – Every Tuesday, there is something unusually exciting at no 7 Cwango Crescent, The Business Place, in Philippi, near Cape Town. Here, ​ dozens of chemically free green vegetable crate loads are visible. So are the unlabelled rows of empty packets. It’s the packing day.

Trucks criss-cross Khayelitsha, Gugulethu, Philippi and Nyanga – all densely populated communities outside Cape Town – and Stellenbosch to collect vegetables and drop them off at the Philippi centre for delivery to customers.

​These are products of about 80 small-scale urban farmers who successfully supply fresh organic vegetables once week.

They are part of a scheme of more than 100 farmers known as Harvest of Hope, an initiative of Abalimi Bezekhaya that helps community farmers grow vegetables in their backyard gardens.

“All the vegetables are grown chemically free by community farmers,” says Rachel McKinney, Harvest of Hope marketing co-ordinator.

Abalimi Bezekhaya is a farmer focused organisation that supports home and community gardens and guarantees purchase of all vegetables from these gardens.

​”The small farmers have an opportunity to produce nutritious food and make money for themselves,” says McKinney.

An assortment of vegetable pack for two people a week costs R99 (about 7 dollars) and bigger pack costs R133 (about 10 dollars) for four people.

“I test the soil and vegetables to make sure they are free of heavy metals and pesticides,” says Christopher D’Aiuto, a soil scientist and Harvest of Hope, production coordinator.

D’Aiuto told IPS that with more than 35 gardens and farms that supply Harvest of Hope, they have to make sure they are all using organic agriculture, and the easiest way is through annual testing. “I am also pushing production to source organically produced seedlings and seeds,” he says.

Abalimi could pass the test of fighting poverty and provision of healthy and nutritious food, but the striking reality is, even chemical grown nutritious food is not enough on South Africa’s dinner tables.

South Africa’s constitution is one of only 23 in the world that guarantees the right to food, yet the country suffers from malnutrition, both under-nutrition which spawns hunger and starvation and over-nutrition resulting in obesity.

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Spinach and Spring Onions. On a Tuesday all the farmers bring their goods to the market. Credit Astrid Stark/IPS

Wrong food, less food

Statistics are staggering. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) says the right to adequate food is not being fulfilled as globally more than 793 million people going to bed hungry every night.

There are 11 million South Africans who are living in cases of extreme poverty and who are hungry every single day, according to the World Food Bank.

Read more here

By Munyaradzi Makoni

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