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KZN FARMERS ANSWER CALL OF LOOMING LOCKDOWN HUNGER CRISIS

KwaZulu-Natal farmers, from various farming communities across the province, this week responded to the desperate calls of dwindling food supplies in local communities in their areas, following the nationwide lockdown.

Farmers from Ixopo, Highflats, Kokstad, Mount Currie and Mooi River all reacted swiftly by donating fresh and dry produce, seedlings and milk to surrounding rural communities. The farmers also partnered with local organisations, churches and local municipalities to provide essential supplies for over 4 500 families.

In the Ixopo area, together with the local municipality, Woza Moya Foundation, a community-based NGO located in the Ifafa Valley, the Creighton Sunflower Fund, a humanitarian NPO based in Creighton, farmers identified the most vulnerable communities nearby and working together sourced and put together food parcels, and then distributed these door-to-door. Among the contribution were fresh and dry produce, seedlings as well as financial donations, which were used to buy produce from emerging farmers to sustain these communities in the upcoming weeks.

“When we heard that spaza shops were not among the initial list of essential suppliers, we knew our local communities would suffer greatly and that we needed to help,” said Bruce Allwood, Chairman on the Ixopo Farmers’ Association Trust.

“Our community caregivers carried out assessments, calculating the number of families running out of food or, quite frankly, starving. Many of these families made extra money through stalls on the side of the road or at schools and, without this income, cannot survive on social grants,” said founder of Woza Moya, Sue Hedden.

“The response was overwhelming, with R30 000 in financial donations and approximately 10 tons of food distributed to 200 families in the Ubuhlebezwe region,” said John Bredin, former Chairman of the Ixopo Highflats Farmers’ Association.

Meanwhile the neighbouring farming communities of Kokstad and Mount Currie, together with the Greater Kokstad Municipality, the Kokstad Community Care Centre, the Kokstad Chamber of Commerce, local ward councillors and churches also identified those in need in their communities, and saw farmers donating 500 litres of milk, cabbages, tomatoes, maize, potatoes, fruit as well as other fresh and dry produce which were collected, packaged and delivered door-to-door.

“We had to act quickly and began to rally the support of the community,” said Mount Currie Farmers’ Association and Kokstad Chamber of Commerce public relations spokesperson, Candace Wood.

“We have seen incredible pledges and bulk deliveries from farmers who are all too eager to get involved. We have been able to assist over 700 families in the Greater Kokstad region and the list keeps on growing,” said Wood.

Further afield, dairy farmers from Mooi River, Danone SA and the Upper Midlands Agricultural Transformation Initiative (uMATI), a non-profit organisation aimed at rapid transformation within the greater Mooi-Mpofana area, sought to assist local relief and welfare agency, the Lighthouse Community Centre.

“We are always looking for opportunities to effect positive change and make a difference in our community. We were able to provide Danone products to the Lighthouse Community Centre that will feed 1 500 children daily,” said James Kean, Chairman of uMATI and a Danone farmer.

Kwanalu CEO, Sandy La Marque commended the efforts of these farmers during the lockdown period.

“The selflessness, rapid organisation and collaboration of these farmers is truly outstanding and pays testament to the generosity and strength of the relationships the farmers have with their local authorities and local communities. We are incredibly proud of the work these farmers are doing for those in need and look forward to seeing more projects like this for our nation’s benefit as a whole,” said La Marque.

If there are other initiatives like these taking place in other parts of KZN, we would like to hear about them. Please send details to admin@kwanalu.co.za so that we can share the great work farmers are doing in their communities.