Millions of people who live in South Africa go to bed on an empty stomach and do not have money to buy nutritious food. However, a brand-new partnership between gardening equipment company, Aquacraft, and NGO Siyakhana, aims to not only help reduce food insecurity but is also assisting startups involved in urban food gardens.
According to Aquacraft, its alliance with Siyakhana makes sense because the NGO has various food garden outreach projects in Johannesburg, the Eastern Cape and the Northern Cape. It also has the capacity to train schools and children’s homes on how to run food gardens, and as Siyakhana rolls out projects in other areas, Aquacraft will assist the NGO.
The first pilot project between the two is an organic vegetable garden in Johannesburg’s CBD. It supplies a range of fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs to vulnerable communities in the city. Aquacraft Marketing Manager Candice Knipe-Tlhotlhalemajoe told Vutivi News that the partnership included a portion of all Aquacraft sales going towards expanding the Johannesburg project and urban vegetable gardens across the country run by Siyakhana.
“The brand understands that it has a responsibility to go beyond the bottom line. We looked for a garden that was established, and wanted to align ourselves with the garden, contributing not only to food security but also to employment,” she said. According to Siyakhana Garden Project Coordinator Chantell Domingo, the NGO offers training courses to promote health and wellness skills. They include permaculture gardening, sustainable urban agriculture, nutrition and herbalism.
“The Siyakhana Initiative is committed to expanding the adoption of permaculture, sustainable livelihoods, and health-promoting wellness skills. We provide training to members of the public interested in urban permaculture gardening, food production, renewable technologies, nutrition, physical activity, and health promotion,” she said. Knipe-Tlhotlhalemajoe told Vutivi News that recent statistics indicated that more than 11.5 million people in South Africa were classified as critically hungry.
“(Also) the recent riots have highlighted the social challenges we face as a country when it comes to poverty, hunger and unemployment,” she said.
“If we want this to change, we need to take action.”
Knipe-Tlhotlhalemajoe said that Aquacraft had provided the Johannesburg food project with gardening tools and a six-meter container which it requested for storage and security. Aquacraft was also helping Siyakhana with skills development, and how to improve its sales and marketing objective, operations and financial accounting.
But she said it was ultimately up to all South Africans to do their bit to improve food security, and for those with purchasing power to support social change. “Being a garden product, the brand wants to be seen as a catalyst for sustainable food change,” said Knipe-Tlhotlhalemajoe.
“We want to bring the mindset that people must garden for sustainability. So, instead of planting a tree to give you shade, you can plant a tree that gives you shade and fruit. Instead of beautiful flowers, plant beautiful vegetables in order to be able to harvest and feed.”