Small Scale farmers were faced with uncertainty when the President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, announced the lock down, telling everyone to stay at home and restrict the movement of the people to only allow essential services.
The time that the president introduced the Lock Down, it was the exact time of completing the summer crops harvesting and moving to winter crops cultivation. Due to the government introduced Lock Down, small scale farmers were unable to execute the duties at hand leading to the loss of sources of food and income and, also, interfering with the harvesting and cultivation calendar.
As time goes by, through the advocacy by sympathizers, small scale farmers were later allowed to go back to their fields provided they obtained permits. Even when they had permits, those who depend on retailers for seeds, as many do during winter season here in South Africa, were left wanting since other retailers that provide seeds were still considered non essential until level 4.
Now that small scale farmers have been allowed to work on their fields, there are also efforts by civil societies to provide some measure of relief by purchasing Agricultural produce from farmers which will be distributed to the vulnerable in the community.
Small Scale farmers are battling with a two edged sword, one being to continue with their activities and other being trying to protect themselves from the Covid-19 virus. South Africa is already in the middle of winter and normally people contact Fever and Flu like symptoms, and with the current pandemic, the situation is unpredictable.
South Africa is starting to see an increase in numbers in Covid-19 infections and everyone, especially elderly people, are advised to stay at home. If the current rate of infections continue for weeks, it might create panic in people even though the lock down is being eased monthly.
This may hamper the effectiveness of Subsistence food production.
Since I was introduced into Slow Food Network five years ago, I started developing interests in practical activities of people producing food for their own consumption as well as to sell the surplus to their communities. This has encouraged me to be part of the Slow Food 10 000 gardens project in Africa, and since then we have created over 50 community gardens in Vhembe area, in association with Adopt A River group (an association of people with over 99% women representatives who voluntarily collect garbage to clean their community, water ways and river banks for better environment). I have been the coordinator of the Slow Food 10 000 gardens project in Africa in Limpopo (South Africa), since then.
Apart from that, I have been engaged in policy platform nationally, continentally and even globally with the Landless Peoples Movement of South Africa since 2011. I have participated in policy debate platforms led by the South African Government under the Department of Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reform including Civil Society Mechanism Platforms. I also had an opportunity to participate in the United Nations on the Declaration of Peasants Rights and Other people working in Rural Areas, in Geneva, Switzerland, for over six years until it was adopted in New York in my absentia in 2018 due to other logistical issues.
With Mahala Love, we are going to complement the already work done on the ground and ensure that initiated projects are sustained through skills development and other programs that will benefit the community.
Food production is not a once off thing, it is a continuous practice that need everyone in the world to play an important role, and there is a need for continuous support (Technical, Financial, Emotional, skills training etc) in community projects and Mahala love is here for that.
In reality, we cannot end poverty, but we can end hunger and the only way we can eradicate hunger and malnutrition is by affording the community the opportunities to grow their own food and place resources at their disposal and we want Mahala Love to be the vehicle to achieve this goal.
There is still much work to be done on the ground and by walking together we will go extra miles.
Inkomu (Thank you)
The current pandemic of Covid-19, has taught us that saving for tomorrow can save lives. When countries start to implement “Stay Home/Lock Down,” we witnessed millions of people from around the world flooding the retailers through panic buying since they have power to purchase.
Those that have no power to purchase were left helplessly watching those that were buying more than what they need, due to panic buying.
A lesson we learnt from this pandemic is that people need to be taught to be self-sufficient. Subsistence farming has been a way of life for decades, if not centuries, up until recently when people have to depend on retailers for their food supply.
The fault line was noticed a week or two after lockdown, that there are millions of people living below the poverty line. Governments from around the world tried to distribute the food parcels to the needy people, but there was not enough to be distributed to everyone in need.
The fault line has taught us that we need to encourage people to start growing food for self-sufficiency. As the proverb says, “instead of giving a man a fish to eat for a day, you better teach him how to fish.” This is why Mahala Love exists. We want to go to the most vulnerable people and teach them the basics to grow food sustainably, using resources available in their respective area,
It is possible. We will win.
Inkomu (Thank You)