At the beginning of August, we launched the project and introduced the app and research to more than 100 people. Workshops were held at the Sustainability Institute nr Stellenbosch, and Rhodes University, Grahamstown. The attendees represented growers (small and large), buyers (charities and restaurants), municipalities and government departments representing health and agriculture and a variety of non-profit organisations from across the food supply chain.
As a taster of our workshops, Sarah Durr (a Masters student at the ELRC) provides an overview of the Eastern Cape workshop.
“After an excellent and exciting first workshop held in the Western Cape on the 1st August 2017, the Food for Us team travelled up to Grahamstown to host the Eastern Cape Introductory workshop. The workshop was held on the 3rd of August in the Rhodes Education Department and welcomed 68 interested parties from all over the Eastern Cape. There was a diverse collection of rural, small scale emerging farmers which helped to highlight the needs of small scale farmers and how the application could deal with these needs. The Food for Us project was also honoured to host many government department representatives from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries; the Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform and the Department of Trade and Industry.
The workshop first introduced the background to the Food for Us project explaining the global and national food surplus challenge and juxtaposing this against the malnutrition and hunger challenges that society faces. After a brief presentation of the aims of the Food for Us application the attendees were given an opportunity to ask questions and make comments. There was a lot of discussion about the novelty of the idea and excitement about being involved in its development. After being given a brief presentation by Lead Associates on how the application might work and look, the attendees were divided into groups to discuss what they would like to get from the application and the things the application must be able to do to fulfill the needs of farmers and consumers.
The attendees were also given an opportunity to network with each other and the Food for Us team over a delicious lunch provided by Rhodes University. This was a great opportunity for everyone to discuss the issues that they experience in the fresh food supply chain in a more informal setting.
After lunch, there was a report back from each group explaining what they envisioned for the application and suggesting the types of affordances they would like to see in the Food for Us application. These report sessions were very successful and gave everyone a chance to express their opinions and make comments.
In summary, there was a large support for the application and the potential it held to link farmers to a new market. The importance of intermediary organisations, such as the Raymond Mhlaba Development Agency. Not only were the private farmers and consumers excited by the project but the government departments also engaged fully in the discussion stating they would strive to engage in more public, private partnerships to improve the situations for struggling farmers.
The workshop ended with around 40 of the attendees voicing their interest in the project. The workshop was closed by the Food for Us team explaining the projects time line and that there would be further communication regarding participating in the project as a trial participant with training. The Eastern Cape workshop was a great success and provided the perfect opportunity to launch the project which now has the potential to help the farmers and consumers in the Eastern Cape.”