Residents in the West Coast have been awarded for boosting food security in the province.

Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities, today (12 December 2016) announced the winners of a competition seeking to honour residents for their food gardens in Pella, Mamre and Atlantis.

An initiative of the Western Cape Department of Agriculture, the food garden competition aims to encourage residents to produce their own food, with a particular focus on rural areas. First launched in 2011, 68 food gardens entered the competition this year.

Minister Winde commended the winners for taking a proactive approach to improving food security in their households and communities.

“The winners of this competition are leading the way in sustainable food production. Through their food gardens, they are feeding their families and their communities. The community gardens also play an important role in job creation in the community.

“We take food security seriously. Over the last three financial years, we have invested over R1.8 million into food security initiatives in this region. Our support ranged from household garden starter kits to projects at local schools. We are pleased to have committed partners in the promotion of food security in the West Coast.  You are our food security champions. I would like to congratulate you and I encourage residents across the province to follow your example.”

Minister Winde said innovative resource management was critical in sustainable food production.

“We’ve experienced the worst drought since 1904, and this has impacted our agriculture sector. Trends show rainfall will continue to decrease and this calls for a smart approach to how we produce food. The Western Cape Department of Agriculture has partnered with the National Department of Water and Sanitation to set up water tanks so gardeners are able to collect roof water. There are several other measures residents can take to maintain food gardens during water-scarce periods.”

Minister Winde added that the Department of Agriculture was also piloting the use of the hydroponic SMART garden concept, which resulted in 70% water savings.

This system consists of a water tank which contains diluted fertilizer. A solar pump pumps the water and fertilizer onto the crop, which grows in cocopeat. Cocopeat is a growing medium with high water retention. Plants receive enough water and fertilizer and the excess drains back into the tank for re-use. These plants tend to grow faster and deliver higher yields and no water is lost.

Please see below the following tips for maintaining food gardens:

  • Raised bed container organic gardens save about 40% on the use of water

With this system the ideal soil/compost mixture is placed in a container. With no one walking on the crop, the soil is not compacted. This ideal system allows the micro-organisms and earth worms to thrive in the soil. A good structured and fertile soil like this, is able to contain more water. There is no water loss through the profile and no run-off occurs;  

  • The use of Vermiculite to improve the water holding capacity of soils

Vermiculite is a type of clay that is able to absorb moisture from its surroundings. When you mix this clay with your soil, it improves the water holding capacity of soils;

  • The Western Cape Department of Agriculture is also implementing drip irrigation systems, which is the most efficient irrigation method and also uses less water. When you apply water to crops through a drip irrigation system, as opposed to a flood or sprinkler system, the water is only applied to the roots of the plants. In this way no water is applied to soil where no crops are planted and no water is lost through evaporation and run-off.

Please see the full list of winners attached.

Bronwynne Jooste
Spokesperson: Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities
Responsible for Tourism, Economic Development and Agriculture
Western Cape Government

Tel: 021 483 3550
Cell: 060 970 4301
Twitter: bronwynnejooste