By Marshall Rinquest
I was sponsored by the Department of Agriculture [Landcare] to take part in a four day conference in Stellenbosch at the Provincial Training Institute of Agriculture between 8 -11 September 2015. I was honoured to be part of such a big revolution, attended by half our country’s farmers to share their inputs and challenges on the hot topic of food security.
As well as that issue, we looked at various ways of protecting our rivers and wetlands as 50% of these have been lost or contaminated through commercial farming throughout the years, through the leaching of harsh chemical fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides into our waterways.
Demand is growing from South Africans to know where their food is coming from and how it’s grown. Farmers agree they will have to step up to the challenges and convert from the petro-chemical based compounds they use at the moment, which are depleting their soils and which are becoming so expensive they can no longer run their farms sustainably.
Throughout the four days we listened to a number of environmentalists who ran workshops/talks on the long term effects of using harsh chemicals as fertiliser and how these are one of the main reasons for cancer and other critical and chronic diseases in both humans and animals.
The biggest highlight for me was taking big commercial farmers around a few similar sized Western Cape organic farmers to see how it’s done in a sustainable way on a big commercial scale. This is called conservation farming.
A Green Argi Portal [www.greenagriportal.co.za] was launched by the Minister of Environmental Affairs, during the conference, as a platform for big and small scale farmers to practice more sustainable farming. Farmers can go to this website for any advice or contribution on how to implement conservation farming – as this will be our only way forward.
Throughout the four days a big concern was raised on the tons of food that are being wasted per year between our farmers and production. We had various workshops between the relevant parties aimed at identifying ways on how to drastically reduce our country’s food waste to ensure food security for all.
LET’S ALL BE ACTIVE CITIZENS AND BE PART OF OWN FOOD PRODUCTION AND PRODUCE NO WASTE.