The small holder farming and informal food trade sectors ground to a halt due to the onset of Covid 19 and the lockdown that followed. Given the importance of these sectors in supporting large numbers of South Africans, the complete lack of economic activity meant that many people were in dire straits. The WWF Nedbank Green Trust recognised this challenge and made a special call for catalytic project proposals that would address the havoc wreaked by Covid 19 on the livelihoods and food security of those working in the sector and those reliant on its success.
“There are approximately 2 million smallholder farmers in South Africa and many of them rely on the land to feed their families, with hopefully some surplus to sell or trade. These farmers need to become resilient to dramatic environmental and socials changes such as climate change and the Covid 19 pandemic,” says Mkhululi Silandela, Senior Manager of the Sustainable Agriculture Programme at WWF South Africa (WWF-SA).
“Therefore, as part of our continued efforts to improve food security through sustainable farming practices, we agreed to fund several organisations that will be running innovative projects to help these farmers during and after Covid 19.”
Building on an already strong base of food focused projects the WWF Nedbank Green Trust approved six new projects believing that they will result in more resilient smallholder farming communities. The projects will be implemented by:
- Mahlathini Development Foundation, which will be working with farmers in KZN and Eastern Cape. The Foundation will be helping the farmers to integrate the different aspects of their family farming approach consisting of a variety of elements such as homestead gardening (vegetables and fruit), dryland field cropping and livestock (poultry, goats, sheep and cattle). They will also be helping them to improve their agroecological farming by capacitating and supporting them to commit to more climate and crisis smart farming practices in order to double their production for local markets.
- LIMA Rural Development Foundation, which will be working in the Eastern Cape to safeguard and rehabilitate springs and water infrastructure so that small holder farmers have access to potable water for food production and for the battle against Covid 19.
- FoodForward South Africa, which will be working with large commercial farmers to encourage them to donate their agricultural surplus to address hunger and reduce the environmental impact by diverting good quality edible surplus food. Reducing food waste and loss is the third most effective solution for fighting climate change.
“Food and water security for better health and sanitation form the crux of the work that we will be doing in partnership with these organisations. In addition to securing the food and well-being of the small holder farmers we also want to contribute to building a positive image in the market about the hygiene and safety processes followed by this sector by helping them to develop food safety guidelines in order to allow them to continue to trade and earn a living during the pandemic,” concludes Silandela.