South Africa: Securing food

South Africa: Securing food – in rural and urban areas. More and more Kolping Families in South Africa are becoming smallholders in order to feed their families a healthy diet and sell the surplus yield. Kolping is thus also successful in new regions – in rural areas, but also in the big cities.

Kolping has been operating in the south-eastern part of South Africa for a few years only. In the Transkei in the Mthatha region, Sinegugu Ndamase is the agricultural coordinator in charge and contact person for the Kolping Families. “There is a lot of land in South Africa, but only some of it is being used. People here are facing the challenge that climate change is intensifying. When it rains, it rains too much. When it’s hot, it’s too hot,” says the agricultural expert. The 36-year-old woman usually travels to the Kolping Families for a few days, as the distances to those living in the hinterland are long. Sinegugu convinces the members to plant their own gardens. To make sure that the harvest works under the difficult circumstances, she gives tips and mixes theoretical and practical advice. Apart from high-quality seeds, the members receive tips on how to keep birds and pests away without using chemical pesticides. For example, the small farmers prepare a decoction of stinging nettle or chili, which has to stand for seven days and is then sprayed on the plants in the afternoon.



Healthy eating and profit

The Kolping Families immediately put into practice what they have learned and present their harvest results to the coordinator when she comes regularly to visit. The Phelandabe Kolping Family is now growing its own seedlings. “Now we don’t have to buy them anymore,” says Theodora Nowongile Manyifolo (the woman with the red scarf) happily.  “We used to buy expensive artificial fertilizer. With our own fertilizer, we are healthier and harvest much more.” The crops are enough to feed the extended family and there is enough left to sell at the market or to supply a neighboring supermarket. Theodora regularly takes a shared cab to the nearest town. The cost of the journey is about one euro which is the price of a cabbage. She quickly recoups her expenses.

Food gardens in the big city

Growing your own vegetables is not only possible in rural areas, though. Kolping Families have also started to take initiative in towns and cities to convert fallow land into food gardens. In municipalities, schools or public parks, for example. In Meadowlands, a district of Soweto/Johannesburg, a Kolping Family received permission from the city council to convert an overgrown area of the park into a vegetable garden. Tomatoes, onions and cabbage are now growing where drug traffickers used to meet.



School gardens – even the youngest children learn how to grow vegetables

These are often community gardens cultivated by the members of a Kolping Family in Soweto. As arable land is rare in the city, Kolping members are often allowed to set up gardens on school grounds. This has the advantage that pupils can also be involved in growing fruit and vegetables and that the Kolping Families give part of their crops to the school. Sharon Kwangwane, 33, ist one of many active Kolping members in Meadowlands. “I taught vegetable growing at a school. We plant together with the pupils and later harvest spinach, spring onions, potatoes, carrots and pumpkins.” Part of the harvest is then used to prepare a meal at school and the children can enjoy what they have seen grow step by step.



In this way, the principle of “empowerment” is gradually gaining ground. Kolping desk officer Volker Greulich sums it up in a nutshell: “I tell Kolping Families when I visit: We don’t tell you what to do, you have to find out and do it yourself. The success will speak for itself. That way you can inspire even more people.” This principle is working, and not only in South Africa.