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Food security and ecosystem programme for small-scale farmers takes off in Atlantis

Some of ASEZCo Food Security and Ecosystem programme participants. From left: Nontsikelelo Mngqibisa, Kaylyn Jansen, Siyabulela Adonisi, Vuyani Jonga, Julia Hampton. | SUPPLIED

Some of ASEZCo Food Security and Ecosystem programme participants. From left: Nontsikelelo Mngqibisa, Kaylyn Jansen, Siyabulela Adonisi, Vuyani Jonga, Julia Hampton. | SUPPLIED

Published Mar 16, 2022

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Cape Town - The Atlantis Special Economic Zone Company (ASEZCo) has launched a food security and ecosystem programme for local small-scale farmers and businesses in Atlantis, which officially began on Tuesday.

ASEZCo was originally established to capitalise on the province’s booming renewable energy and green technology sector.

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The programme will equip local small-scale farmers and businesses to scale their operations and grow their crops, which will in turn grow their incomes over the next few months.

ASEZCo spokesperson Ursula Wellmann said the businesses would participate in tailored training and mentoring sessions aligned to their own needs, with a focus on elements of farming practices that included tunnel farming and hydroponics. The sessions would also focus on establishing and running successful farming businesses.

ASEZCo chief executive Pierre Voges said: “We have a real opportunity in Atlantis to harness the collective efforts of the community, with the partners we work with, to grow quality food locally.”

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He said unlocking enterprise opportunities sustainably through this project would further grow the relevance of Atlantis as an investment destination that embodied resilience.

Mayco member for Economic Growth James Vos said: “The need for sustainable urban agricultural projects is growing, and we in Cape Town are well positioned to become a global leader in this space.

“Harnessing technology to increase yields is exactly what ASEZCo aims to achieve by equipping local farmers with the necessary skills.”

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Joseph Ruiters, a senior executive at The Business Associate, the programme’s implementation partner, said: “This project is a true model of an ecosystem where supply chain institutions (ASEZCo), the community, community organisations (schools), business support organisations, and entrepreneurs work together to create a sustainable local economy to the benefit of the communities they serve.”

He said the beneficiaries of this programme were well represented by women, youngsters, veterans and people with disabilities.

“Equipping these beneficiaries with the skills and support in the coming months will position them to achieve greater heights, even landing a large retail supplier contract,” Ruiters said.

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Small-scale farmer and programme participant Anastasia Smith said: “I am already supplying my local community with vegetables on a weekly basis, but I am keen to understand how to scale my operation and possibly even create another income opportunity for more people in my community.”

Wellman said nurturing self-sufficiency in this way would also support food security at a community level.

“We kept the criteria for his programme limited to prevent entry barriers. This specific sector has many informal businesses operating, therefore we could not exclude these beneficiaries.

“Ultimately, entry into the programme was based on the location of the small-scale farmers, who need to be from Atlantis (ward 29 and 32),” she said.

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Cape Argus

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