Seriti Institute

Photo Credit: WWF

About Seriti Institute

Seriti Institute, formed in 2009, is a registered non-profit company and public benefit organization. A Level 1 B-BBEE compliant social enterprise. Seriti works with communities and social partners to support them to reach their goals by delivering innovative, sustainable, and comprehensive solutions to enhance socioeconomic impact.

Seriti believes in people and their capacity to be drivers of change and progress in pursuit of a society with more opportunities, building toward a better future. Seriti works in communities to hone capabilities in tandem with our social partners and community champions to create work opportunities, alleviate poverty and inequality, strengthen caregivers, and nurture stronger, food secure, and resilient communities. Seriti provides technical support; programme/project management and implementation; facilitated learning and promote civic-driven change.

Seriti’s work activities, through the various programmes, cover: capacitation and job creation of primary caregivers of children aged 0-8 aRe Bapaleng; support related to sustainable farming and agribusiness development while strengthening local food production and creating decent work opportunities Work.Learn.Grow; social partnering and capacity building for NPOs Seriti PARTNER; developing and strengthening township economies TED; and civil society discussions Seriti TALKS.

The WWF Nedbank Green Trust and Seriti Institute

To respond to the high rate of food insecurity caused by the COVID-19 restrictions, Seriti worked collaboratively with other civil society organisations to provide food relief to vulnerable communities. This programme paved the way for Seriti to create a more sustainable and resilient food system project called Work.Learn.Grow. The WWF Nedbank Green Trust funds the Work.Learn.Grow project.

The Project

The Work.Learn.Grow project is a community farming and social enterprise initiative which seeks to create opportunities for agriculture and agribusiness entrepreneurship in low-income communities, focusing especially on women and youth. Through this initiative, Seriti seeks to support sustainable livelihoods and provide people with opportunities, inputs, and training to start their own food gardens, as well as avenues to scale-up activity around viable agri-business opportunities. Furthermore, this programme aims to increase the amount and diversity of food produced, improve/maintain food quality, improve individual, household, and local food access, increase dietary diversity, and increase income from activities in the agro-food system to reduce poverty.

The project, coordinated by four partner NGOs ( Seriti, AFRA, SAFL and GenderCC) worked with 108 individual food producers – predominantly women – including small-scale farmers, community gardeners and backyard/household vegetable producers in four municipal areas. As such, 30 food producers have been engaged in eThekwini, 28 in uMgungundlovu, 24 in Gauteng and 26 in Bela-Bela.

This project consolidated networks of small food producers and helped them to increase their production and livelihoods. Their success attracted other producers, and the network grew in this way. All the partner agencies promote agroecological farming – a system where vegetables are farmed in harmony with the natural environment, including the economic use of water and enrichment of the soil with bio or organic compost and without chemical fertilisers. Part of the project aimed to assist small-scale businesses that produce seedlings and bio-compost to support the growers.

At each of the sites, a core of vegetable producers and some livestock producers (mainly poultry) were identified, ranging from backyard gardens of 20 m2 to smallholder farms and community gardens of half a hectare to 4 ha. The primary aim of increasing production was to help producers generate or increase their income by selling into local market channels, notably people in their communities, street traders and informal markets.

The producers received peer-to-peer learning which took the form of practical in-field learning, or a combination of classroom and practical training. The majority of our producers favour practical training or “learning by doing”. The project coordinators worked on engaging the government at multiple levels – local, district, provincial and national – to promote working together and agreeing on production systems and support that will consolidate and strengthen producers and increase access to markets.