Category: Food Security

12
Apr

The Science of Slow Food

I was interviewed this morning on Radio Today by Gillian Godsell together with my co-researcher Dr. Naudé Malan from Izindaba Zokudla, and collaborators Geoff Green and Brian Dick from Slow Food Johannesburg. I discuss how as an industrial designer I ended up working on urban agricultural projects and how relevant they are for the South African context. You can listen to the 1hr 20min podcast here:

19
May

UJ multi-stakeholder project encourages a sustainable food system in Soweto

Izindaba Zokudla (Conversations about Food): Innovation in the Soweto Food System, a multi-stakeholder engagement research project, co-headed by Dr Naudé Malan of Department of Anthropology and Development Studies (UJ) and Mr Angus Campbell of the Department of Industrial Design (UJ), will launch its first farmers school at the University’s of Johannesburg’s Soweto Campus on Saturday, 16 May 2015.

“In 2013, a series of workshops identified the need for increased training and knowledge generation for urban farmers and food producers. This is an important aspect of a sustainable food system. Food, and in particular its distribution and transportation, is a key contributor to climate change and we aim to counter this with the establishment of local food economies that produces food close to where it is consumed,” says Dr Malan.

He stressed that the creation of a local economy also holds potential to conserve and reinvest capital in our townships and this holds promise for an alternative approach to economic development that benefits food security.

The Izindaba Zokudla project is a joint initiative by the University’s Department of Anthropology; Department of Development Studies; Department of Industrial Design; Department of Business Management (Soweto programmes); Department of Graphic Design; Department of Multimedia Design; Department of Strategic Communications (Public Relations); the City of Johannesburg: Directorate Food Resilience; Region D Farmers forum; and the Meadowlands Agriculture Forum.

The project, a free service offered (with limited space) to all farmers in Soweto, started with urban farmers and gardeners in Soweto and is aimed at resource-poor, emergent, established and commercial urban farmers.

In 2015, the intended focus is on horticulture, developing appropriate technology and on establishing networks that can assist in developing viable and sustainable food enterprises.

Farmers can register for the Farmers’ School online.

Details of the Izindaba Zokudla: Farmers’ School Launch

Date: Saturday 16 May 2015

Venue: University of Johannesburg (UJ) Soweto Campus (SWC), Chris Hani Road Orlando

Time: 10h00-16h00

An exhibition by: UJ Industrial Design on Participatory Technology Development, UJ Graphic Design for Social Change, ENACTUS: Small Enterprise Development, UJ Community Engagement, City of Johannesburg Food Resilience Policies.

More information on the Izindaba Zokudla project: http://www.designsocietydevelopment.org/project/izindaba-zokudla/

Original article source: http://www.uj.ac.za/EN/Newsroom/News/Pages/UJ-food-system-in-Soweto.aspx

09
Jul

Inglorious Fruits & Vegetables

Each year, we throw away over 300 million tons of fruit and vegetables worldwide mainly because they do not conform to retail standards of perfection (57% of total waste). The European Union has made 2014 the European year against food waste; and  Intermarché the 3rd largest supermarket chain in France decided to try and change their customers perceptions to encourage better behaviour towards imperfect fruit and vegetables by showing them that though they might be ugly, they are just as good to eat!

Intermarché made every effort to celebrate 5 “fruits et legumes moches” or “inglorious fruits and vegetables”. They received their own print and film campaign, their own local poster and radio campaign, their own in-store branding, their own aisle in store, their own labelling, and their own spot on the sales receipt. Finally, for people to realise that they were just as good as the others, Intermarché designed and distributed inglorious vegetable soups and inglorious fruit juices in-store.

The campaign celebrated the beauty of the Grotesque Apple, the Ridiculous Potato, the Hideous Orange, the Failed Lemon, the Disfigured Eggplant, the Ugly Carrot, and the Unfortunate Clementine. Intermarché bought from its growers the products they usually throw away, and sold them in-store just like any other, but 30% cheaper and making them far more attractive to their consumers. They sold on average 1.2 tonnes per store in the first 2 days of the campaign, increased store traffic by over 24%, and reached over 1.3 million people with the publicity they received! “Inglorious Fruits & Vegetables”, a glorious fight against food waste!

03
Jul

The Open Source Seed Intitiative

I have just completed reading Lisa Hamilton’s aptly titled article, Linux for Lettuce, in VQR: A National Journal of Literature and Discussion. The article explores the beginnings of the Open Source Seed Initiative (OSSI) by a handful of practical farming academics and plant breeders in reaction to companies like Monsanto and their unscrupulous race to patent life.

 Fueled by both frustration and outrage, Myers, Morton, and Goldman helped establish a subtly radical group called the Open Source Seed Initiative (OSSI) in 2012. Operating under the radar, its mission was to reestablish free exchange by creating a reservoir of seed that couldn’t be patented—“a national park of germplasm,” Goldman called it. By 2013, the group had two dozen members, several of them distinguished plant breeders from public universities across the country.

OSSI’s de facto leader is Jack Kloppenburg, a social scientist at the University of Wisconsin who has been involved with issues concerning plant genetic resources since the 1980s. He has published widely about the concept behind OSSI, and his words are now echoed (even copied verbatim) by public plant-breeding advocates in Germany, France, and India. As he explains it, for most of human history, seeds have naturally been part of the commons—those natural resources that are inherently public, like air or sunshine. But with the advent of plant-related intellectual property and the ownership it enables, this particular part of the commons has become a resource to be mined for private gain. Thus the need for a protected commons—open-source seed. Inspired by open-source software, OSSI’s idea is to use “the master’s tools” of intellectual property, but in ways the master never intended: to create and enforce an ethic of sharing.” 

Please take the time to read what is a very well written and informative article on the issues of plant patents versus seed sovereignty.

 

02
Jun

ACU Commonwealth Summer School

The 4th ACU Commonwealth Summer School: Global Food Security: Can We Feed a Growing World?

I have been granted one of ten partial bursaries internationally (valued at £350) to attend the fourth ACU Commonwealth Summer School: Global Food Security: Can We Feed a Growing World? together with 80 other post-graduate students from Sunday 17 – Sunday 24 August 2014 at the University of Nottingham, Malaysia Campus, Semenyih.

“The Commonwealth Summer School was instigated by the ACU in 2011. It aims to provide a forum to bring together high quality students from every corner of the Commonwealth to discuss multidisciplinary issues of global importance. A key element of the School is its desire to mix local/regional students with those who may have never  had the opportunity to leave their own regions. The inaugural School was held at the University of Buea, Cameroon, in July 2011 followed by the 2012 School hosted by the University of Botswana and in 2013, the ACU hosted the School in United Kingdom to coincide with the our Centenary.

Why food security?

The world’s population is predicted to hit 9 billion by 2050, and the UN estimates that food production will have to increase by 70% to meet the growth in demand. Issues pertaining to feeding the world’s ever expanding population will be at the heart of the 4th annual ACU Commonwealth Summer School’s programme, designed to take a multidisciplinary look at one of the major issues of our time. Top speakers and facilitators will help to frame the key issues and challenges allowing participants to learn, interact and work across countries, regions and disciplines to build international research connections. Participants will journey through various aspects of food production, looking closely at distribution, environmental management, migration, biotechnology, farm management, supply chains, nutrition and health policy in the process. Delegates will have the opportunity to observe the reality of food management, experience first-hand the food and supply chain, and immerse themselves in the challenges of food production. Through a series of workshops, group work and field-based learning, we will look at how food gets from farm to fork.” quoted from the Association of Commonwealth Universities

I am really looking forward to this opportunity to explore issues of food security and how to bring about food systems change in another “developing” context!

02
Jun

Innovation in Food, Ag and Integrated Resource Systems

Workshop: Innovation in Food, Agriculture and Integrated Resource  Systems: Creating Sustainable Opportunities in Soweto

Presenters: Sander Mager and Dr. Christopher Peterson

Facilitator: Dr. Naudé Malan

When: Thursday 5 June 2014 11:00 – 17:00 Where: VIP Lounge , University of Johannesburg Soweto Campus , Chris Hani Road

South Africa is not unique in facing social, environmental and economic challenges. To address these three successfully would require innovative solutions that bring together state agencies and departments, non-governmental organisations and private enterprises. Two leading experts in the creation of sustainable enterprises will in this workshop share their experience of addressing these challenges. Dr. Christopher Peterson and Sander Mager are leading the creation of the Global Innoversity which is an innovation accelerator aimed at inspiring and supporting the world’s metropolitan regions in developing and sharing innovations in food, agriculture and integrated resource systems.

The workshop will share the methods used and experiences gained in creating ecological, social and economically sustainable enterprises and innovations in the food system from the Netherlands and Michigan USA. These methods and experiences inform the current work of the Global Innoversity which is a self-sustaining global program for mutual action learning on metropolitan agriculture in, between and for the metropolitan regions of the world. Its goal is to successfully develop, share and implement a globally acknowledged ‘methodology’ for developing metropolitan agriculture in innovation clusters in metropolitan regions. It aims at multi-stakeholder cooperation and innovation and a new approach to transdisciplinary and participative knowledge development. Sander Mager will present the experiences gained from working for TransForum in the Netherlands, which preceded the Global Innoversity. TransForum is a public/private consortium that has invested €60 Million in more than 100 projects that demonstrated tangible results by improving the 3P (People/social, Planet/ecological, and Profit/economic) dimensions of sustainable metropolitan agrifood systems.

Dr. Christopher Petersen is the Director of the MSU Product Center Food-Ag-Bio that stimulates and develops business innovation and economic growth through business counselling, in‐depth market analysis and technical assistance for new entrepreneurs and existing businesses.

Brought to you by Izindaba Zokudla: Innovation in the Soweto Food System; Design Society Development & the Global Innoversity for MetroFood/Ag

24
Apr

Global Food Safety Partnership

Today I am e-attending the Global Food Safety Partnership (GFSP) meeting in Aarhus, Denmark as one of  a few voices from the global “South”. The GFSP is a unique public-private initiative dedicated to improving the safety of food in middle-income and developing countries initiated by the World Bank. Food safety is a complex problem. In today’s world, food’s journey from meadow to meal or hook to cook can include multiple steps, many vehicles, and several transformations. As demand for food increases, food is increasingly making longer and more complicated journeys with more companies participating in its production and delivery. As a result, the opportunities for the introduction and spread of contamination increase. Tackling this takes an organised, coordinated approach—across borders, governments, and industry—to ensure the safety of the world’s food.

The GFSP brings together fishers and farmers, business and industry, governments, regulatory bodies, international development organisations, and civil society to drive a globally-coordinated and locally-driven food safety approach.

The GFSP combines food safety training and technical support so developing countries can improve their food safety systems and benefit from better compliance with food safety standards. This training is tailored to the specific needs of individual countries and segmented to reach all the way up, down and across the food value chain, the Partnership benefits small farmers, food processors, retailers, supervisory and regulatory agencies, and policy-makers, among others.

For more info please visit the GFSP website where you can sign up to become a partner if you feel you can add your expertise to the mix: http://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/agriculture/brief/global-food-safety-partnership

26
Mar

Cultivating Unemployment

“Cultivating Unemployment takes a hard look at the realities of rural economies in South Africa and begins to grapple with the policy implications of these realities. The video shows the challenges and difficulties involved in creating rural economies that can multiply benefits for rural dwellers.” Produced by the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies

26
Mar

The Farmer and his Prince

“This film depicts a Prince, who has the vision to feed the world with organic agriculture and heal damaged nature. Alongside his charismatic farm manager David Wilson, he has been pursuing this goal for 30 years. Through poetically impressive images, this unique collaboration portrays how organic agriculture works, and the benefits that emanate from it. Bertram Verhaag observed these two visionaries over the course of five years – through all four seasons.

The Prince of Wales already felt strongly about the concept of organic and sustainable farming long before the word “sustainability” was on everyone’s lips. More than 30 years ago, he realised that other farmers could only be swayed to cultivate their land without poisons and in harmony with nature, if they were presented with a practical example. This example turned into an exceptional success and now, farmers from all over the United Kingdom travel to the Duchy Home Farm, to gather the courage and knowledge they need, to convert to organic themselves. Prince Charles appears in an entirely unusual light, which forces the viewer to throw all prejudices towards him and organic agriculture overboard.” from http://www.denkmalfilm.tv/index.php?page=prinz&l=en

03
Apr

Webcast: Finding a Focus for MetroAg/MetroFood: An Analysis of the Johannesburg Food System

Please join Dr. Naude Malan and myself on Monday at 14:30 (South African time) as we present a webcast exploring the Johannesburg food system and the focus of our MetroAg/Food research. You can find a printable and distributable flyer here (please ignore my position at UJ, I am in fact Senior Lecturer in the Department of Industrial Design)… If you missed the webcast you can find a recording of it here.