Set against the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and rising petrol prices fueled by war, there has never been a better time to focus on food, within the context of self-sufficiency, but also considering its ecosystem to unlock income opportunities. The Atlantis Special Economic Zone Company (ASEZCo) launched its Food Security and Ecosystem Programme on Thursday 10 March. The programme will equip 21 local small-scale farmers and businesses to scale their operations and grow their crops, and in turn incomes. This will be done over the course of the next few months with the businesses participating in tailored training and mentoring sessions aligned to their own individual needs. These will focus on elements of farming practices, including tunnel farming and hydroponics, as well as establishing and running successful farming businesses.
According to Alderman James Vos, Mayco member for Economic Growth “The need for sustainable urban agricultural projects is growing and we in Cape Town are well positioned to become a global leader in this space. Harnessing technology to increase yields is exactly what the ASEZCo aims to achieve by equipping local farmers with the necessary skills to deliver on this task. As a City, we are proud to work with ASEZCo in realising a greener Cape Town.”
Hearing from the team driving this project, as well as the range of local partners engaged in support of this project, of their dedication to sustainable agriculture and farming was a true inspiration to all. “We have a real opportunity in Atlantis to harness the collective efforts of the community, together with the partners we work with to grow quality food locally,” said Pierre Voges, CEO of the ASEZCo. “Unlocking enterprise opportunities sustainably through this project further grows the relevance of Atlantis as an investment destination of choice, one that embodies resilience.”
As Joe Ruiters from The Business Associate, implementing project partner, highlighted ““This project is a true model of an ecosystem where supply chain institutions (ASEZ), the community, community organisations (schools), business support organsiations and entrepreneurs work together to create a sustainable local economy to the benefit of the communities it serves. The beneficiaries of this program are well represented where the majority is female, also with representatives from youth, veterans and people with disabilities. Equipping these beneficiaries with the skills and support in the coming months will position them to achieve greater heights, even landing a large retail supplier contract.”
Judging by the excitement at the start of this journey this prospect is one that is very possible for all the participants. “I am already supplying my local community with vegetables on a weekly basis but am keen to understand how to scale my operation and possibly even create another income opportunity for more people of my community,” said Anastasia Smith, a small-scale farmer participating on the programme. Seeing that the heat of the summer months will soon abate the new season will present plenty opportunities for new crops and new green shoots of greater things to come.
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