Household garden helps farm worker put food on the table

Makhosi Nkosi, 58 is a farm worker from Hillerman Farm in Wartburg about 50 km from Pietermaritzburg. Her household of eight have to live on R2040 a month, which is less than a living wage and much lower than what is needed for a household to buy a basic basket of nutritious food. And, of course, this minimum subsistence amount does not take into account the cost of rent, electricity, clothing and other essentials. Added to this are rising food prices during the lockdown, and the loss of the one meal a day through the school-feeding scheme that her grandchildren relied on to meet their minimum nutrition needs.

During the hard lockdown her household ran out of money to buy food because of increase in food prices. She had to cut down on some of the food items and was forced to borrow money to cover other expenses. This has trapped her in a cycle of debt, including the mealie meal (25 kg) that she buys on credit from her employer who later deducts from her monthly salary.

Some of her grandchildren receive child support grants whilst others don’t because they have no birth certificates. Even with the social grants as an additional income, there is still not enough money to feed the entire family.

Confronted with an immediate need to support her family, Makhosi started a food garden. Which she says “iyalixosha ikati eziko”, an IsiZulu proverb, which means the cat does not sleep on the fireplace. A cat on a fireplace signifies hunger, since there is no cooking, the fireplace is cool enough for a cat to sleep on. In her garden she currently has spinach and cabbages that she also shares with her neighbours.

 

Impact of COVID-19 lockdown on small-scale farmer and agro-processor, Philani Ngcobo

Philani Ngcobo is a full-time small-scale farmer who lives in a communal area in Ndwedwe, a small town in Ilembe District Municipality just outside of Durban in KwaZulu-Natal. COVID 19 impacted his farming, with losses in some areas and gains in others.

Philani studied accounting after school and received a National Diploma in Accounting and has been a farmer since 2011 with no other source of income. His small farm produces a diverse range of produce, including:

  • seedlings that he sells to other farmers and households. He buys the seeds from a commercial seed producer in Pietermaritzburg;
  • vegetables that he sells to households in his neighbourhood, street traders who sell cooked food and enterprises that sell to school feeding schemes in the iLembe District Municipality;
  • chicks that he produces in an incubator and sells to local farmers;
  • pigs that he sells to an abattoir;
  • calves that he buys from dairy farmers, grows and sells on the local market.

He produces some of his vegetables, like tomatoes, in an aquaponics system and also does some agro-processing.

His market for vegetables was significantly affected under COVID 19 lockdown because the school feeding schemes that the traders supplied the vegetables to were affected by the school closures. Seedling sales also took a knock when farmers stopped buying in response to their markets drying up during the hard lockdown. Despite this, Philani observed a counter-trend in increased seedling sales to local households because “people did not go to work and had time to do gardens”.

In January 2020 he was selling vegetables and chicks weekly, and selling up to 90% of his stock regularly. He has noticed that his chick production is higher now because chick sales increased during lockdown as producers struggled to get supplies from their normal sources. His calf production has been limited by the availability of calves since the beginning of the lockdown.

During February 2020, his sales earned him R1880 from vegetables, R520 from day old chicks and R3000 from a grown out calf. These sales have been accompanied by an increase in input prices. In February 2020 the price of:

  • fish food for the aquaponics system went up by R100 to R425 for 25kg
  • pig feed went up by R25 for 50kg, an increase of R100 on his R600 bill
  • seed potatoes went up from R170/25 kg in 2019 to R200/25 kg in 2020.

This is a cost that he passes onto his customers in order to maintain the profitability of his farming.

 

Lockdown affected the livelihood of smallholder farmers: Mam’ Nene

Mam’ Nene from Mayizenkanye in uMshwathi, KZN shares her perspective on how the COVID-19 pandemic affected her livelihood.

This short video was developed as part of the research project entitled “The Impacts of Covid-19 Responses on the Political Economy of African Food Systems” to highlight the impacts of Covid-19 regulatory and support interventions on the functioning and structure of food systems in South Africa. The research project is in partnership with PLAAS at the University of the Western Cape working with the University of Pretoria, and with Masifundise Development Trust which works with small-scale fishers and traders and the Association for Rural Advancement, (AFRA) which works with small-scale farmers, farm workers and traders.

Lockdown affected the livelihood of smallholder farmers: Lucy Nxusa

Lucy Nxusa from Mayizenkanye in uMshwathi, KZN shares her perspective on how the COVID-19 pandemic affected her livelihood.

This short video was developed as part of the research project entitled “The Impacts of Covid-19 Responses on the Political Economy of African Food Systems” to highlight the impacts of Covid-19 regulatory and support interventions on the functioning and structure of food systems in South Africa. The research project is in partnership with PLAAS at the University of the Western Cape working with the University of Pretoria, and with Masifundise Development Trust which works with small-scale fishers and traders and the Association for Rural Advancement, (AFRA) which works with small-scale farmers, farm workers and traders.

Lockdown affected the livelihood of smallholder farmers: Ndabenkulu Myeza

Ndabenkulu Myeza from Appelbosch, Ozwathini in KZN shares his perspective on how the COVID-19 pandemic affected his livelihood.

This short video was developed as part of the research project entitled “The Impacts of Covid-19 Responses on the Political Economy of African Food Systems” to highlight the impacts of Covid-19 regulatory and support interventions on the functioning and structure of food systems in South Africa. The research project is in partnership with PLAAS at the University of the Western Cape working with the University of Pretoria, and with Masifundise Development Trust which works with small-scale fishers and traders and the Association for Rural Advancement, (AFRA) which works with small-scale farmers, farm workers and traders.

Lockdown affected the livelihood of smallholder farmers: Matrina Xulu

Matrina Xulu from Appelbosch, Ozwathini in KZN shares her perspective on how the COVID-19 pandemic affected her livelihood.

This short video was developed as part of the research project entitled “The Impacts of Covid-19 Responses on the Political Economy of African Food Systems” to highlight the impacts of Covid-19 regulatory and support interventions on the functioning and structure of food systems in South Africa. The research project is in partnership with PLAAS at the University of the Western Cape working with the University of Pretoria, and with Masifundise Development Trust which works with small-scale fishers and traders and the Association for Rural Advancement, (AFRA) which works with small-scale farmers, farm workers and traders.

Insecure Tenure – Impact on women on farms

This story highlight the impact of insecure tenure on women on farms. The story is narrated by Nike Mkhize, a member of Qina Mbokodo from uMkhambathini Local Municipality in KZN.

#Commonwealth #cfgrants #QinaMbokodo

Gender-Based Violence: The story of MaNxumalo

This story highlight the Gender-Based Violence experienced by rural women. Characters to the story are members of Qina Mbokodo, a group of women on farms in uMgungundlovu District Municipality, KZN.

#Commonwealth #cfgrants #QinaMbokodo

Africa Land Forum 2020: Mainstreaming Land Governance in the Agenda 2063

In this paper AFRA Director, Laurel Oettle provides a perspective from South Africa on what the impacts of COVID-19 and the lockdown that accompanied have exposed about our food system. This includes the contribution of small-scale (or family) farmers, how rapidly hunger can rise, and what could be changed to bring citizens back from the margins into the heart of a more inclusive, democratised, and recalibrated food system.

The paper was presented at the Africa Land Forum 2020 held in September. Can a crisis allow us to recalibrate?