The food system is constantly shifting and changing, and it is up to us to seize opportunities to move it to a more sustainable, equitable and productive system.
The Farmers’ Lab of the 28th of May will discuss opportunities to build a more efficient food system by drawing together representatives of the new West Rand Mega Park and local entrepreneurs who are aiming to build strong local capacity in food trade, processing and production.
This follows on our initial Virtual Lab on the 26th of February, and from Zodwa Khoza Foundation’s Earth Day event, that prepared the ground to build the right relationships for such a local system to emerge. Subsequent to this earth Day meeting, the Zodwa Khoza Foundation partnered with Soweto Business Assist to explore strategies to enable local spaza shops to buy in bulk, and directly from farmers.
The West Rand Mega Park is envisaging systems and processes that will enable more direct trade between producers and consumers, but facilitated through digital, converged and devolved systems. The systems they are developing will allow more direct trade between stakeholders, less food miles, and lower costs of storage and transportation.
It is truly important when an entity like Maximum Group makes their systems available for emerging entrepreneurs. The Maximum Group is aiming to position the West Rand Mega Park in such a way that sustainability and equity issues can be achieved as we create a productive new food system around this major urban development. It is up to others to engage and work towards achieving this goal. iZindaba Zokudla has an interest to facilitate this conversation and in assisting so we can in fact achieve sustainability, equity and productivity as we re-shape the food system.
This Farmers’ Lab will explore how the “Farm 2 Fork” systems of the West Rand Mega Park can be utilized by local players in the food system. We will have an open discussion on how opportunities that the West Rand Mega Park creates can be seized by actors in the food system, and what iZindaba Zokudla, us, and the broader activity of talking about the food system, to achieve this.
This discussion is particularly important to those who are not so close to me that I can bring them into the conversation. However, there are many emerging entrepreneurs out there, and there are many established businesses out there that would have an interest in trading with string, capable, sustainable and productive new food enterprises. I would like to field a challenge to all those who are struggling in the food system: INNOVATE! And INNOVATE not in only sharpening your business, but rearrange your value chains! It might be possible to trade more directly with farmers, like in a bulk buying arrangement. All we need is a number of buyers to make the necessary arrangements amongst themselves and farmers to start forming relationships with them. You yourself will know what is needed to do to create such short supply chains. Farmers can in fact process and package their produce before it leaves the farm. Start a new business doing this, and capture some of the value you lose by selling all your stuff at once!
This is also a call to those budding facilitators out there to start thinking with “common sense” on how to create new “communities” in the food system that will trade in a more sustainable way. What we need is farmers who produce in a certain way – say “locally” by also harvesting food waste from customers. This relationship is the basis of a new approach to food trading. Can we build longer chain relationships between farmers and distributors, processors and other traders? These relationships are the lines along which we trade, and let see if we can create new relationships. I am thinking of South Africa’s smaller towns and smaller independent retailers. A little bit of investment in these relationships, technologies and processes may create new local systems and local products. We have great opportunities in front of us and lets give this a go!
Please click the following link in order to join us on Friday 28 May at 13h00 until at least 14h30: https://www.facebook.com/events/968558227226075/