October newsletter – MTO establishes 482 Community Food Gardens

Enabling food security in the Tsitsikamma/Longmore area
In response to the social challenges of poverty, malnutrition and unemployment in the Tsitsikamma/Longmore area, the MTO Group in consultation with stakeholders including community members, Government and schools, established 482 food gardens, to date feeding approximately 2 500 people.

According to Nandi Pupuma, MTO Group Eastern Cape Stakeholder Relations Business Partner, “We kick-started this initiative in March 2019 to enable a long-term solution to the food security threat in the Tsitsikamma area. The community food gardens programme makes it possible for community members to grow their own food and nourish their families/community. As a socially responsible company, we value all stakeholders and are attuned to the increased challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about. Before lockdown, MTO had established 105 community food gardens, and we proceeded to ramp up activities whereby a further 377 food gardens were planted. Many people had reduced or lost income streams and the community food gardens assisted in stretching incomes – people were able to save on costs by not having to purchase vegetables and utilise money on other essentials.

Communities benefitting from this initiative include: Coldstream, Stormsriver, Thornham, Nompumelelo, Koomansbos, Kwaaibrand, Hermanuskraal, Witelsbos, Woodlands, Guava Juice, Clarkson, Wittekleibos, Longmore and Thornhill. The food gardens are in community members’ backyards and complement feeding schemes at eight primary schools and two creches.

The MTO Group continues to expand this initiative whereby the goal is to have established 750 community food gardens by the end of 2020 thus enabling food security for 3 750 people. Complementing the community food gardens initiative is the establishment of the Tsitsikamma Community Nursery. “MTO saw an enterprise development opportunity and identified four unemployed locals who are experienced in farming. We sponsored the start-up costs and training for the establishment of the nursery, which now sells seedlings to the community and MTO for the community food gardens,” says Pupuma.

The community food gardens initiative aligns to MTO’s economic transformation strategy whereby the goal is to enable food secure, healthy environment and economically empowered communities in MTO’s areas of operation through sustainable socio-economic development, enterprise development and supplier development initiatives.

The gardens are an important solution for many people who go to bed hungry in the Tsitsikamma area. The response from community members has been very positive whereby increased numbers of people are looking to be part of this initiative. It’s also very positive that in addition to the gardens feeding households, some community members have started generating an income from the gardens. This links to MTO’s future development plans for the food gardens to unlock entrepreneurial opportunities for the community,” concludes Pupuma.


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