AS the government is undertaking various programmes to ensure food security in the country, human rights activists are pushing for scaling up agroecology to ensure production of healthy food and respond to climate change.
According to them, agriculture ecology should be highly encouraged at the moment where the world is facing the biggest challenge of climate change and diseases of which some of them have to do with the food that people eat.
Speaking during a plenary session on Poverty and Food Security during the just ended South African Women in Dialogue (SAWID) 20 -Year Celebration, Tanzania Gender Networking Programme (TGNP) Communications Officer Ms Monica John said that it is high time for farmers and the government to harness agro ecology since it is not only environmentally friendly but also ensures production of healthy foods.
“When we are talking about food security, we should also think of healthy food, this is much more important because there are some diseases which are currently on the rise and are related to what we eat,” she said.
She added “ensuring food security is important but we should also make sure that what we eat can sustain us and good to our health instead of filling our stomachs with food that may affect our health in future.”
Ms John said that practicing agro ecology and establishing a secure indigenous food seed as well as documenting indigenous knowledge on agro ecology is vital for ensuring production of sufficient and healthy food.
She said that our forefathers used to eat traditional foods due to the kind of farming methods they applied in the past which was environmentally friendly and improve nutrition and health at the same time.
“They used traditional seeds and organic fertilisers which improved soil health…to date people use both organic and industrial fertilisers, as a result they don’t get enough yields,” Ms John said.
She further said that not all people can become farmers, but since only a few farmers use agroecological practices, more people can engage in the activity by creating backyard gardens.
Ms Monica said TGNP is implementing a project dubbed Rural Women Cultivating Change in which the organisation looks into how women can engage in agroecology and activism at the same time.
She said women engagement in activism will help them to engage in leadership and thus fight Gender Based Violence (GBV) because it relates with agriculture.
“If women are not engaged in leadership, they will fail to address various challenges they encounter in agriculture, therefor we encourage them to participate in leadership such as agriculture committee and other issues related to the sector so that they can influence agroecology,” she said.
She said women participation in leadership will help in the formulation of laws and policies which will help to promote agroecology and protect the group against various challenges such as lack of reliable markets.
Ms Nomonde Buthelezi, the Food Justice Activist from Food Agency Cape Town said that it is time for every individual to start his own food gardens at home so that they can be assured of getting healthy foods.
She said that her government does not recognise organic growers thus agro ecology has not been given much weight.
Ms Buthelezi said that the only thing people can do is to have gardens in their backyards to scale up production of organic food.