In one of Mzansi’s oldest townships, Soweto, you’ll find a slightly eccentric Johannesburg professor creating opportunities for urban farmers and agriculturalists in the area.
Dr. Naudé Malan is affectionately known as “Mashudu”, a Venda name meaning “the lucky one”. He is a senior lecturer in Development Studies at the University of Johannesburg and founder of Izindaba Zokudla, a Soweto-based farmers’ lab. He joins Food For Mzansi’s co-founders Ivor Price and Kobus Louwrens in the first episode of Season 2 of the Farmer’s Inside Track Podcast series.
Izindaba Zokudla (an isiZulu phrase roughly translated as “conversations about food”) engages with and links urban farmers, entrepreneurs, academics, civil servants and other stakeholders. They are also focussed on participatory technology and enterprise development.
“For the kind of work that I want to do, Soweto is the centre of the universe. I believe that if we can change Soweto, we can change the entire world and that no problem will be too much to overcome,” Malan says.
In the podcast Malan talks about the small-farmer appropriate technologies that are being developed.
“One of the technologies we designed was a food cooler that works with water and not electricity. It was appropriate to hawkers because they could get water from anywhere, it could cool their products and enable them to keep it for more than a day,” he says.
Malan admits that when designing the technology, he realised that there is power in participation. “When you bring the people into the technology design process, what comes out in the end is often something that is so radically appropriate,” he adds.
The lecturer also briefly speaks about the beehive they designed to be used in township backyard spaces. He says, “we can now industrialize the townships as opposed to always thinking that because it is squatter camps, this is impossible. For us that’s a place of manufacture and we can change the world in that way.”
The passionate driver of change believes that it’s important to empower the poor globally in order to change the world. He says that agriculture in Mzansi needs to rethink who it seeks to serve.
“To grow and sell in a township is actually the forefront of economic development globally. Because the only way to solve the sustainability crisis is to create local and sustainable food systems and markets.”
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