Podcast: Township farmers boost food systems

township farmers

This week’s Farmer's Inside Track podcast features (from left) Thiko Didiza, Susan Van Der Merwe, Sizo Tshabalala, Dr Nauru Malan, Motlatsi Tolo, and Aron Kole. Photos: Supplied/Food for Mzansi

Dr Naudé Malan believes that, by using the resources they have available, township farmers can make a significant contribution to the country’s food system. He joins the Farmer’s Inside Track podcast this week to discuss how we can make the most of this impact. 

“To create or to make a contribution to the local food system, it’s very important for local farmers to first of all increase their ability. That is really about their ecological intelligence, the way they understand permaculture, biological cycles, and transforming waste into fertility.” 

Malan says that township farming, or low input farming systems, are the same as organic or permaculture systems, but that their emphasis is on using what is available in the local area. This is because township farmers do not have access to the same amount of resources as elsewhere.  

Naudé Malan says his hands do not farm but he provides a platform that brings farmers together to share opportunities and information. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

He also emphasises that for township farmers to effectively contribute to the food system, they need to build relationships within the township. “The linkages with other actors, households, spaza shops, buyers, etc, is important because these linkages create the presence of the township farmer in the township,” he says. 

“It’s important to develop these linkages in complex ways – deep relationships, human and cultural ways – which everyone can understand. That then creates what we call the social capital, the trust amongst people to establish an enterprise and for this enterprise to thrive due to sufficient customers.” 

These linkages also need to be put into operation so that it benefits both the farmer and the community. “These linkages need to be operationalised as productive linkages. So, basically these are all two-way streets because the same people who will bring you your wastes will be your customers.” 

Operationalising the linkages and the support systems as a township farmer can be as simple as using Whatsapp effectively. “Whatsapp can be configured to create a sales channel, an educational channel, a marketing channel, and a waste harvesting channel, and that’s really important.” 

Educating the community on healthy food is another important factor that can make township farming a success. “A community cannot be healthy with wastes lying around, so the waste system is really a way of regenerating the community to give them economically productive activities, picking up litter and exchanging that for food which makes it economically productive.” 

ALSO READ: The township food revolution has started

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