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Dear All

Welcome to 2024. I have been silent during December but am back after a break and time to complete some writing for iZindaba Zokudla.

Please allow me to share with you what I have in mind this year. Please also bear with me, as I simply do not have the time to constantly communicate on social media. I believe such incessant communication can in fact create the wrong incentives and outcomes, and I am very much concerned that social media, ill-informed researchers, and uninformed and emotionally driven activists create the wrong narrative for urban agriculture.

This wrong narrative leads people astray, and we need to be extremely clear and super-well informed on what urban agriculture can do if we want to promote it.

The things it cannot do so well include:

·       Food security. A food garden can certainly deliver a lot of food, but we need to understand the scale of the food security problem to understand why a food garden cannot make very big impacts on food security. All food gardens will certainly have an impact, but the claims being made of one garden is often overstated. In a sense, impacts food security depends on both the size of the garden and the ways food is produced. Then it revolves around the volumes of food. Should enough volumes of food be produced, the garden could make an impact on food security, but then it faces another hurdle: the cost of food. It does not matter how much is produced, if it is not effectively sold at a lower than market price, there may be no impacts. It is income that creates food security, but income needs to be used for all other expenses as well and hence the achievement of food security is very difficult to see. Hence, I have developed recommendations on how an urban farmer can market their food at lower than market value. Delivering food at lower than market value, all else being equal, will enable the beneficiary to save in other areas of life and achieve in those. This is how a food garden makes a positive impact on society – only by making food available at lower than market cost. This is offset by waste harvesting, and it is this commercial trade structure that has some chance of impacting food security. This is why we promote this structure of exchange, as this has a real change of making a positive impact.

·       Income generation: To generate incomes, whatever is sold needs to be sold at an effective price. The price it is sold at, is not the whole picture as it concerns incomes. The income is offset by the cost of production. Hence whatever price is received, the income come only after we deduct expenses. Hence, if a food garden wants to create income, it needs to lower its cost of production, and this is very important as the garden can only produce in low volumes. I have developed recommendations and techniques for producing at almost Zero capital cost. This is a key part of the trade structure of an urban farm. The development of waste harvesting systems can enable income generation as they substitute for cash and costly inputs. Income can be gained, but then we need to both lower production costs and institute biologically based production methods, as these have their own inherent productivity and the whole is larger than the sum of its parts. These are the business decision that ned to be made, and although they seem meritorious, the choice of organic production has more to do with its profitability than a moral consideration.

·       Sell to supermarkets. Food gardens need to realise that due to the low volumes of production, it simply cannot sell to an intermediary. Food gardens need to be built around retail sales opportunities, and this command of your own retail presence is key to making the endeavour worthwhile. A system needs to be developed to integrate waste harvesting with production and sales. This will complete key cycles in the food garden as enterprise and help ensure profitability.

To be an urban farmer needs a few strategic choices to be made, and there is a narrow path that can be walked to gain profitability. During the last December, I spent a lot of time completing the book on urban agriculture. I am almost finished, but as always have a lot on my hands and I need to find some quiet time to complete this book. Most of the material is already available on the Blog, but there is an important section I need to write, and this concerns the procedures and conduct of the urban farmer in setting up the business.

During 2024 we will be following a schedule that will approximate the chapters in the book. I am setting this out in some way below. Please be on the lookout for notifications on SMS, postings on Facebook and entries to the Blog. The schedule below is what I envision for 2024, and this Blog entry will be a guide for the programme in 2024. In each event, I will endeavour to host a prominent speaker! In this year, I will also be integrating my students with the iZindaba and hopefully we can see what needs to be done to link students with urban farmers. Please note that all these events are scheduled for B3 on our Soweto Campus but be on the lookout as we may schedule these events on another site or at a specific farm. At the time of writing 18 February, these dates and venues have not been confirmed, but I will update this blog as soon as this is clear.,


9 March Opening. In this event I will be presenting the overall vision and indicating what it is we will be doing this year.


6 April In this event, I will be presenting and analysing the market opportunity for urban agriculture. We will further contemplate the Unique Value Proposition that is possible for urban agriculture. I have developed the recommendations in the book as flowing from this UVP as follows: 

The creation of a price reduction mechanism for urban agricultural produce through the local recycling and repurposing of waste.

In this event, we will be conducting the analysis of the market opportunity ourselves, and we will be discussing and adapting this UVP for individual farmers.


4 May This event, and the next one will workshop the “Essential Technologies for Urban Agriculture” and elaborating on each of these.


22 June “The Essential Technologies for Urban Agriculture” No. 2. We will continue discussing these technologies.


20 July The key in achieving profitability lies not in production and technology, but rather in sales and the profit profile of these sales. To achieve such a positive profit profile, attention needs to be paid to sales and process, their integration with inputs and also the enhancement of sales. In this event, we will be looking at how to realise and implement a waste harvesting system and integrate it with your production. To do this, you would need to develop and implement technology, engage and form a partnership with a reclaimer, and build circular systems for the use of the material in production and sales. Hence in this event, we will be discussing Product and Service Design for Urban Agriculture.


3 August Once you have designed your products and integrated them with your input system, you need to develop a system to sell to customers. In this event we will be looking at the following:

·       The setting of process for your produce.

·       The integration of pricing with waste harvesting.

·       The integration of engagement processes with enterprise development.

·       The integration of linear sales, like bulk sales and convenience sales, with the sale of urban produce.

After this event, you should know how to set prices and how to make your produce attractive for urban customers.


14 September In this event, we will be looking at the process of registration and how to make your business compliant. You could be compliant to standards like food safety even though you are not registered, and in this event we will take a comprehensive look at how you should plan the registration and compliance of your business. This event is also worthwhile for all other entrepreneurs, and it would benefit them as well to participate.


Weeks before and following 19 October Please note that I will need to confirm this venue and time. In this event we will contemplate Business Plans and have a re-cap of the course so far. We will discuss business plans as many by this time would have become familiar with enterprise development, and the next steps would be to completely formalise the business and seek out bigger markets and stakeholders. We will discuss how to proceed on this path of enterprise development.


16 November This may be the last event for the year, and we will use this day to plan for 2025 and adapt and innovate on the curriculum.


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Purejoy tt
Purejoy tt

Hi everyone

I just want to say thank you Dr Naude Malan for this clear projection and a bird's eye weiw into the events of izindaba zokudla for the year 2024.

I 'm really happy to be a beneficiary and partaker on these great discussions about realistic strategies and techniques that can help urban farmers to make an income while contributing to food security.

I specifically like the idea of waste harvesting systems and institution of biologically based production methods because these systems contribute in the reduction of waste pollution. Phambili balimi phambili !

Thank you.

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