From 27-29 November, on the occasion of the South African national workshop organised and facilitated by the project partner Avaclim Environmental Monitoring Group (EMG), 20 participants gathered in the Goedgedacht Conference Centre in Goedgedacht, west of Cape Town.
This event, which takes place in all the project partner countries, aims to bring together members of the agro-ecology community of practice to share knowledge and reflect on ways to strengthen and sustain the exchange over the long term, while addressing the state of food and agriculture policies and the means for scaling up agro-ecology
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the workshop was held in a distanced setting for the plenary sessions and in the spacious barn of the Goedgedacht property, thus respecting the rules of social distancing. It was attended by representatives of the initiatives identified in South Africa, as well as the research partner, Mr. Raymond Auerbach, and members of the implementing partner (EMG).
After a walk through the olive orchards of the Goedgedacht property and a presentation of the history of the place, the professor Raymond Auerbach discussed with the participants the indicators for assessing the socio-economic and environmental benefits of agro-ecology resulting from the identification of the common needs of the grassroots actors involved. This step is crucial, as it enriches the process of evaluating the performance of initiatives being developed to prove the effectiveness of agroecology to government actors.
The participants highlighted certain criteria for the success of the initiatives presented. For example, theGoedverwacht initiative is carried by a collective of 16 farmers (including 12 women) who practice traditional and agro-ecological farming methods. The community has a collective business that sells their highly diversified products and is also active in agritourism. The standard of living of the members has improved significantly, as the families are able to pay for the children's university fees or participate in the renovation of roads. However, the small farmers are still unable to take out loans for long-term projects as the land belongs to the Moravian church, which also claims part of the income generated by the collective in the form of taxes.
The high representation of women at the national workshop (50%) reflects their involvement in sustainable development projects in South Africa. L’phakamani Siyephambili initiative highlights their impact in creating a local economy and in their actions to train and raise awareness among local residents, small farmers and children on methods of water conservation, soil restoration, seed production and other sustainable agricultural practices.