Despite being one of the poorest regions in the country, Limpopo is also the most food-secure province in Mzansi.
At a rate of 92,6%, Limpopo has the highest number of households to enjoy adequate access to food as compared to other provinces. This is according to Statistics South Africa’s general household survey.
The secret behind its success, the Limpopo department of agriculture and rural development explains, is simple: Take advantage of living in rural communities.
According to Joshua Kwapa, media liaison officer at the department, they can hold this ranking mainly thanks to high levels of subsistence farming being practised in the province.
Kwapa explains, “You have people in the villages and the majority of them have a field or two where they are able to farm with one crop or the other – particularly maize and vegetables.”
Kwapa tells Food For Mzansi that it is common for households in the province to have backyard gardens or farming properties.
“People go to the chief in the village and ask for a piece of land to farm. You will find that in a village, over 80% of people there have backyard gardens or some fields where they do farming.”
Villages plough forward
The Limpopo department of agriculture and rural development, Kwapa says, has been pushing household gardening quite aggressively among residents. The primary focus has always been to eradicate hunger at household level and to secure food for people at their homes.
Through its Fetsa Tlala initiative, the department has been providing inputs to beneficiaries, such as agricultural production inputs, technical advisory services and mechanisation among others.
Fetsa Tlala furthermore helped farmers plough 430 hectares at a cost of R470 000 using private service providers, while 121 hectares were ploughed using state tractors.
The province strengthened its position following the recent high-yield harvests recorded by subsistence and smallholder producers in Leolo in the Sekhukhune district. Also under the Fetsa Tlala programme, these small producers from various villages could submit their harvests to milling companies.
The villages Moelakgopane, Dlamini, Hooperkranz, Ga-Kobe, Mohlake, Sekele and Ga-Moela produced 536 tonnes of maize while Hertfort harvested 473 tonnes.
Advice for other provinces
Reacting to the successful harvest, which was in part thanks to good rainfall, agriculture and rural development MEC Nandi Ndalane applauded Fetsa Tlala. She hailed it as a revolutionary initiative whose success in eradicating poverty and providing household food is “highly inspiring”.
“Through Fetsa Tlala we hope to ensure that no household in Limpopo will be without food. We applaud men and women who optimise their production through the intervention of Fetsa Tlala.
“We will continue to strive to increase Fetsa Tlala resources so the majority of our people throughout the province can equitably benefit,” Ndalane added.
Meanwhile Kwapa insists that other provinces can also achieve such high numbers of households that have adequate access to food.
The lesson to learn here, he says, is to take advantage of what a rural landscape can unlock for communities.
“They must take advantage of available land in rural communities to encourage agricultural activity one way or the other. It’s a bit challenging to do that in urban areas, but I think rural provinces can really take advantage of the available traditional land.”
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