The commemoration of the World Food Day was a reminder of the extent of poverty and extreme hunger in our world in general and Eastern Cape in particular.
World Bank statistics paint a promising but yet needling picture. Promising in that they report rapid decline of poverty figures. Needling because there are still scores of people living in poverty.
In its group goals, titled, end extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity, the World Bank said although poverty has declined rapidly over the past three decades, humanity still faces urgent and complex challenges.
Owing to these challenges, I call on the people of the province to join our fight against poverty and hunger in the province.
The World Food Day was about talking about the actual work done by governments, civil society, business and families in fighting extreme poverty by providing food and much needed resources to help families and communities to have food security.
In our province, about 42.2 % people are estimated to be living in poverty and this is a worrying figure even though it has been declining.
The work we do in the province has reduced these numbers as more people have access to jobs, social relief programmes such as delivery of seedlings and equipment to start family food gardens.
Business as usual is not working for the Eastern Cape. The time has come now for us to make a policy shift on what we can achieve as the province. The time now has come to take rural development seriously. Government cannot plan perpetually.
The bank`s ambitious but achievable goals seek end extreme poverty at the global level within a generation and to promote what maybe called shared prosperity; a sustainable increase on the well being of the poorer segments of society, which include fostering income growth of the bottom 40 percent of the population in every country.
In the current financial year, we are spending about R143 million on our cropping plan ploughing maize in all districts of the province to beat food insecurity by empowering communities and households to produce their own food.
It is important that each of poor households start their own food gardens to fight food insecurity.
As part of ensuring sustainable food secure households and communities, our department has distributed about 129 800 seedlings to about 16 rural and township communities, 60 x 50Kg pig feed to 6 rural projects, 187 x 50 Kg poultry feed to 8 rural projects.
People drawn from the poor households and community database manage majority of these projects, which have received inputs and equipment from our department.
In line with this, about 73 agriculture starter packs kits, which include rakes, hoes, spades, fork spades, wheel barrows were distributed to Ward 25 in Mbizana, Nelson Mandela Metro community and family food garden clubs, Emadlelweni Day Care in Lady Frere to capacitate beneficiaries to produce their own food and to earn income.
Looking at the amount of the inputs and equipment we have donated and handed over to communities, we are confident that the fruits and yields to harvest from these will make reduce poverty by huge margins.
In its coping with coping with food and agriculture challenge: smallholder agenda, United Nation`s Food and Agriculture Organization said in performing economic, social, cultural, environmental and reproductive functions, family farming can itself be a means of maintaining family patrimony and social status, cultural heritage, territories, landscapes and communities.
This shows that when a family starts its own food garden, it increases chances of food security because they will not lack food as they produce it themselves. And also that, the growth of such farming could help them with an income to self-reliant.
Development activists in this field have long provided evidence of successful family based food security programmes, which expand to influence broader society to produce its own food.
We call on other sectors of society like business, media, civil society, churches, and academics to join our programme of fighting poverty. Our department gives seedlings, fork spades, spades, wheelbarrows, rakes, watering cans that can be used to start food gardens in poor communities to anyone interested to start such projects.
Anyone interested to help poor communities can approach our department and we will provide them with the seedlings and equipment for those communities.
Those that can afford buying seedlings and all the needed equipment can go ahead and buy it and deliver them to the needy households and communities.
For us to defeat poverty, we need to work together as a collective to help those that lack food to have adequate and abundant food.
This year`s world food day themes, which is, family farming: Feeding the world, caring for the earth, encourages all of us to start these gardens to produce the much-needed food.
Increasing food prices make it difficult for the poor people in our society to buy food. If they do at all, they get the lower quality of what is produced.
If we can have each poor person and household start a garden, maintain it and continue planting crops on it, we will win the war against poverty.
So inline this year`s world food day, we call on the people of the Eastern Cape to partner with us in fighting poverty.
We also have food parcels, which are to cater for the households between the planting of their food garden and harvest time.
We need to stand up and help end poverty. We need to use the same energy we have on Mandela Day to plant these food gardens so that those who are hungry can have food and have it more abundantly.
As part of the world food day activities, I handed over about 1000 cabbage seedlings to Joy Community garden, a project working on alleviating poverty, creating jobs and encouraging self-reliance in Burgersdorp.
>> Mlibo Qoboshiyane is a member of the ANC PEC and Rural Development and Agrarian Reform MEC in the Eastern Cape