Many rural communities have access to indigenous and traditional crops that are not only rich in micronutrients, but also likely to serve as a long-term strategy to eliminate food insecurity and contribute to nutrient requirements.
This is the view of prof. Xikombiso Mbhenyane, who heads up the division of human nutrition at Stellenbosch University. In earlier research she found that indigenous foods and dietary diversity within an ecosystem can be powerful sources of nutrients and thus are better for health.
Many believe that Mbhenyane’s work can make a meaningful contribution to current debates about the impact of covid-19 on food security in South Africa. This follows the stark warning by Dr Lawrence Haddad, executive director of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), that the pandemic is taking its toll on lives and livelihoods around the world, and also risks becoming a food emergency.
Food For Mzansi editor Dawn Noemdoe says from their interaction with farmers and consumers it is clear that the pandemic has also placed new emphasis on “mindful or conscious eating”. She says, “In many ways, covid-19 has also exposed the fragility of our belief systems, also about food. Many South Africans are suddenly questioning what they eat, and also figuring out their own role in providing a long-term food security solution.”
Noemdoe says this is why they have chosen “101 reasons to eat local” as the topic for an upcoming webinar presented as part of the annual VKB Food For Mzansi Power Talk series. Last year, these events were presented at Stellenbosch University, the Wits School of Governance and the University of the Free State.
“The limitations on movement has forced us to re-think the popular Power Talk series. And on the up-side, we have decided to open it up to the entire nation and not just a particular university. This means that even more people can participate in discussions on life beyond covid-19,” she says.
Registrations for the “101 reasons to eat local” webinar on Tuesday, 9 June 2020 have just opened. The series also includes a webinar on Tuesday, 16 June 2020 focusing on youth in agriculture with a third webinar on Tuesday, 23 June 2020 on food with integrity.
FREE REGISTRATION: Click here to register for “101 reasons to eat local”
Many top agricultural researches are confirmed as panellists, including Qinisani Qwabe from the Mangosuthu University of Technology in Umlazi. Other panellists include ARC vegetables and ornamental plant researcher Dr Willem Jansen van Rensburg and chef and cookbook author Nompumelelo Mqwebu. Mqwebu strongly advocates for the inclusion of African gastronomy into the culinary sphere.
Noemdoe will be leading the interactive panel discussion addressing the social and economic value of farming with indigenous and traditional crops in South Africa, the impact of indigenous crops on our biodiversity and how these crops add value to our ecosystems and the role indigenous food production plays in addressing food security, increasing food safety and nutrition in South Africa.
Programme for the “101 reasons to eat local” webinar, presented by Food For Mzansi and VKB
Tuesday, 9 June 2020 from 19:00 to 20:30
18:50 – 19:00 Dawn Noemdoe, editor of Food For Mzansi: Welcome remarks and webinar programme overview
Dawn Noemdoe is the editor of Food For Mzansi, South Africa’s leading agricultural lifestyle and news platform. Unashamedly saluting the unsung heroes of this sector, Food For Mzansi champions the cause of the farmers and agricultural heroes who feed the nation. Last year, Food For Mzansi was announced as Africa’s best digital news start-up.
19:00 – 19:20 Dr Willem Jansen van Rensburg, ARC vegetables and ornamental plant researcher
Dr Willem Jansen van Rensburg completed his PhD in plant breeding from the University of KwaZulu Natal. He is actively involved in research on indigenous and traditional vegetables since 2000. This research includes the gathering of baseline information, collation and maintenance of germplasm, germplasm characterization, participatory evaluation and genotype by environmental interaction.
19:20 – 19:40 Qinisani Qwabe Agricultural researcher at the Mangosuthu University of Technology
Qinisani Qwabe is a researcher at the Mangosuthu University of Technology’s Institute for Rural Development and Community Engagement. He is also the founder of a newly founded company called Ubuntu AgriRenaissance which focuses on rural agriculture and embraces indigenous knowledge systems. Qwabe’s love for indigenous foods led him to pursuing his postgraduate studies on indigenous agriculture, which he has become synonymous with.
19:40 – 20:00 Chef and cookbook author Nompumelelo Mqwebu
Nompumelelo Mqwebu is a self-published cookbook author. She strongly advocates for the inclusion of African gastronomy into the culinary sphere.
Mqwebu co-founded the Mzansi International Culinary Festival (MICF), an annual event which showcases a diverse range of five-star African cuisine from across the continent. In 2018, her book, Through the Eyes of an African Chef, was named the world’s best self-published cookbook at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards which took place in China.