There is still enough food on the planet to feed everyone, yet one billion do not have access to sufficient and go to bed hungry every night. Obesity and diabetes grow, and 40 per cent of school going children in South Africa are severely malnourished. It is said that, every day, so many children die due to lack of food; they would fill seven jumbo jets. Something is seriously wrong with this picture and it is obvious that we need to address this. This is what World Food Day and the International Day for Eradicating Poverty, on 16 and 17 October respectively, focus attention on.
Food & Trees for Africa (FTFA) works daily to address these issues. Started in 1990, FTFA began by distributing trees to disadvantaged communities to address climate change, uplifting environments and quality of life. Being dynamic and responsive, FTFA moved and adapted with the changing socio-economic needs in South Africa and now contributes meaningfully to both poverty alleviation and food security.
FTFAs Food Gardens for Africa helps hundreds of schools and communities to develop permaculture food gardens. Farmer Eco Enterprise Development, or FEED Africa, develops organic farmers and farms through providing skills, resources and mentoring, brings formerly unemployed community members into the business of agriculture. With three farms in the ground and several others in the pipeline, FEED is an effective initiative that is providing markets with organic vegetables at reasonable prices. Even FTFAs Bamboo for Africa programme has an element of food production through cash crop intercropping and both this and FEED, develop communities into agricultural cooperatives which speak directly to the theme of this World Food Day Agricultural cooperatives – key to feeding the world.
A major focus of the UN’s awareness campaign this year is the issue of feeding school children and the importance of a healthy meal for helping children to function at the best at school. Since 1994, FTFA has been feeding young bodies and minds through EduPlant, the national school greening and food gardening programme that provides schools and their communities with the tools to develop and grow permaculture food gardens.
FTFA are not the only ones who think eradicating poverty is inextricably linked to food security. According to the World Food Day webpage, the World Bank states that ‘in 2010-2011, rising food costs pushed nearly 70 million people into extreme poverty’.
The importance of cooperatives and rural organisations is further highlighted by the UN General Assembly by their designating 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives.
This year, to commemorate World Food Day and International Day for Eradicating Poverty, FTFA will hold events with some of its partners:
- Pioneer Foods is funding 15 Permaculture Starter Packs for schools in Tzaneen through the Limani Project. Workshops will take place the whole week at Hoveni Primary School, Maake Primary School, Khujwana Primary School, Thabeng Primary School, Lephaphane Primary School and Leseka Primary School. They will all plant seedlings and focus on the importance of poverty alleviation and healthy living.
- Riso Africa are currently funding the development of a food garden at Emfundisweni Pre School in the Strand, Western Cape, and in celebration of World Food Day will plant trees and discuss the importance of healthy food at the project.
- Mati-Yo-Tenga Combined School in Tsonga Section, Daveyton, Johannesburg, received support from Trudon for the development of their garden. The final food garden workshop will take place on World Food Day and will see the planting of seedlings and herbs.
- KFC Yum Restaurants is supporting a food garden development at Diepsloot Combined School, Diepsloot, Johannesburg. To celebrate this day, a variety of seedlings will be planted in the already thriving garden.
- Phase 3 of the Shell Grow a Garden Project sees the long term support of 13 projects around the country. Kgomomogale Primary School in Limpopo will continue with the design of their project; Siyakhala Project in Khayalitsha in the Western Cape will be planting a variety of seedlings; project members from the Ntyatyambo Primary School Project will celebrate World Food Day at Seyisi School, Motherwell Port Elizabeth.
Everyone needs to stop and think about the issues of food insecurity, poverty and hunger and reflect on how the global food system can and must be changed. In the meantime, FTFA continues to look for new partners to assist in alleviating poverty through food security.