The Agricultural Research Council, which has proposed school-based vegetable gardens as well as indigenous traditional crops as the solutions to feed millions. Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency(ANA)
Pretoria - To mark World Food Day yesterday, researchers gathered at the Agricultural Research Council, which has proposed school-based vegetable gardens as well as indigenous traditional crops as the solutions to feed millions of hungry South Africa.

The Water Research Commission partnered with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the Agricultural Research Council to host a dialogue in order to exchange and share ideas.

Researcher at the Agricultural Research Council, Dr Araya Hintsa, said that growing gardens at schools could be a solution.

“One of the schools we have approached is in Mamelodi. We found various methods to grow vegetables sustainably, and found a promising approach to enhance the school’s feeding scheme and the well-being of children with community participation,” he said.

He said they engaged with Bula-Dikgoro Primary School as well as Mahlasedi-Masana Primary School and invited the community members to be involved in the project.

He said this served as a gateway for the schools to create income and to feed poorer community members.

“Another advantage is that this is one of the best ways to introduce children to agriculture, and influence them to take care of the environment as well to be able to produce food for themselves,” he said.

The University of KwaZulu- Natal’s Professor Tafadzwa Mabhaudhi said there were a variety of crops, especially in rural areas, that had great nutritional value but were often overlooked.

He said ingredients such as sorghum, cowpea, kale, Colocasia esculenta (amadumbe) and dark green leafy vegetables had the potential to change diet and had good nutritional value.

“Most of us are in the middle- class and are participating in the dominant food system, whereas the majority of the poor are participating in the informal food system.

“Traditionally, people used to grow their own food and that brought a lot of diversity, but today people go to supermarkets to buy their food, and they find themselves having to afford healthy food, which eliminates diversity,” he said.

Pretoria News