Food Security: participation of young people in community gardens
There have been many initiatives by various social groups, particularly in rural and marginalised communities, to try and deal with many socio-economic challenges caused by unemployment, which include poverty. In many instances, these social groups initiatives have little or no support in terms of resources from the government, especially agricultural projects such as community food gardens. As a result, many young people are reluctant to participate in those projects. On the contrary, initiatives such as the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), Community Work Programme (CWP) and others like corporate internships and learnerships provided by Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) are fully supported by government.
The SETAs model in South Africa is not inclusive. For instance, the SETAs’ skills programmes are aimed at training for the job market. According to AgriSETA, they do not fund individuals, rather they require individuals to apply through formal entities or accredited training providers. This then creates a barrier for agri-ecologists or young people who have experience in agriculture and who could use their experiences to improve their livelihoods but require financial support. Most young people actively participate in initiatives where they are remunerated, therefore it would be motivational for them if AgriSETA could support these community agri-projects.
Viewed more closely, the government, particularly the department of Agriculture, AgriSETA, private sector through its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes, local government and Ward Councillors through the Ward allocated budget, should be able to support the community food gardens and allocate stipends for young people in this sector to motivate participation. The government can do this through their learnership and internship model up until the agricultural projects initiated by communities are sustainable.
We argue that funding and supporting community food gardens has much more value than placing young people into corporate learnerships and internships, where at the end all they receive is a certificate which does not guarantee them a job. With community agriculture projects, there are numerous benefits. Firstly, the projects do not only benefit individuals but have a high potential to benefit the whole community as people work collectively, share the proceeds and crops. These projects are easily extended to other communities. Community projects provide space for skills transfer, preservation of intergenerational knowledge and life-long food security in rural and marginalized communities.
Finally, it is on this basis that we argue for the creation of Community-based SETAs, what we term ComDevSETA.