Farmyards to restore healthy diets

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Gauteng Social Development, Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment MEC, Mbali Hlophe, says the roll out of a farmyards initiative will help instill healthy diets in townships, hostels and informal settlements. 

The farmyard is an innovative concept largely targeted at youth and women.

These beneficiaries receive repurposed containers that are converted into local stores for local farmers to sell their produce to their communities in an effort to instill a healthy diet among residents. 

There are four farmyards in Gauteng’s townships with the necessary equipment and infrastructure as part government’s project to revitalise the township economy.

“This is about bringing back good health and nutrition to our townships. When you look at the stats in our disposal, they show that many people especially children are not eating nutritious meals required for their growth, on a daily basis. By bringing farmyard[s] closer to our people, we are making sure that people start paying attention to their health.

“We encourage beneficiaries of farmyards to ensure that they sell the kind of food that is required in a home meal, to provide nutrient rich crops like spinach, moringa, and additionally provide proteins through the live or frozen chickens they sell,” she said.

This initiative, the MEC said, is also a direct response to the province’s relentless fight to ensure the province is food secure.

“Food security is one of our elevated priorities and boasts a basket of services available to ensure the province is food secure, and with regards to farmyards, we have identified subsistence farmers as enablers to help the province become food secure in a sustainable manner,” the MEC explained. 

The food security basket includes a variety of programmes including food distribution through the food banks, food parcels, Community Nutrition and Development Centres ( CNDCs) and NPOs as vehicles to  ensure that the poor and vulnerable access sustainable, nutritious and safe food in a sustainable manner. This is in line with policy guidelines enshrined in the National Policy on Food Nutrition Security together with Household Food and Nutrition Security Strategy approved by Cabinet in 2013.

More importantly, the MEC indicated that while the initiative secures self-reliance and sustainable food security, it also responds to the joblessness challenge especially for the youth in the province. 

One of the young persons that benefitted from the farmyards is 32-year old Simangele Sibande. 

“The farmyard program provided me with a wonderful opportunity to create my own business to provide for my family and also show other young people that there are opportunities in agriculture.

"What is even more fulfilling is that I was able to employ two other young people to assist me in selling produce from local farmers in Zithobeni,” she said. 

Hlophe noted that the project is gradually shifting the prevailing perceptions in the townships that agriculture is unattractive and associated with filth and frowned upon. 

“A lot of people when they think agriculture, they think something far. But through the project, we have been able to show that agriculture is economically viable, and that as a department we remain committed to continue to facilitate access to markets,” the MEC said. -