From Despair to Hope: A socio-economically transformed "township" through a re-designed food system within a holistic approach.
Leading township transformation through a re-designed food system, utilising "Home Farming" supported by "Hubs" and "Agripreneur" networks.
The pioneers of the new dawn in Philippi: A wise and brave Xhosa woman with an energetic, visionary young "umlungu".
Lead Applicant Organization Name
Fresh Life Produce (Pty) Ltd. South African Company Registration Number: 2016/018346/07. VAT Registration Number: 4790280285
Lead Applicant Organization Type
Small company (under 50 employees)
If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.
Sakhulwazi Women's Hub, Philippi; and
REEDiSA (Pty) Ltd. (South African Company Registration Number: 2011/105140/07)
Website of Legally Registered Entity
How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?
Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?
Cape Town City
Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?
Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?
Philippi, one of Cape Town's oldest and largest "townships". It covers an area of 47 km2. Elevation: At sea level.
What country is your selected Place located in?
Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.
I started my first "township" project during 2018 when we were contracted by the Western Cape Provincial Government to assist in establishing 40 households with a new type of hydroponics garden in Philippi. We trained and mentored these 40 households for 6 months and completed the assignment with a 90% success rate. 36 Households were still using their vertical gardens effectively after 6 months. I was then introduced to Sakhulwazi Women's Hub - a community centre and garden run by women from the community.
We realized that by working together we could make a bigger impact in the surrounding area and community. We moved our hybrid hydroponics production facility to Sakhulwazi and started looking at ways to make Sakhulwazi more financially sustainable. Together we developed a brand-new Africanised hybrid hydroponics system. We countered real world challenges that local users had with hydroponics and other similar growing systems - like: (a) the size of the technology in comparison to its yield and the amount of technical skills required for using it; (b) the bad soil they had to work with in their areas; (c) scarce and brackish water and (d) access to markets.
We are now using the system in all our projects with great success. We also started a food processing kitchen and trained young women from the surrounding community on how to add value to the crops and produce grown in their gardens. We have recently started a “creative township experience” facility so that visitors can also “co-create” with the Sakhulwazi women and experience the community "vibe" and life in and around Philippi. We are currently establishing an additional 140 household gardens in Philippi using the new African Grower system as well as the deployment and support model we developed in co-operation with Sakhulwazi Women’s Hub.
Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.
Sakhulwazi and its high-density, residential context.
Philippi and its direct township "neighbours"
Philippi as part of the larger Cape Flats area and Cape Town City
Philippi, Cape Flats: A place of Despair and Conflict
Philippi’s…developments and substantial residential growth emerged in the early 1980s. Originally called “Die Duine”, (the Dunes), Philippi was (originally) mainly used for grazing until the late 1970s and a few farms existed in the area. Like most black South African “townships”, the history and development of Philippi is linked (extensively) to "apartheid" policies. Most people in Philippi townships came from the former Ciskei and Transkei "homelands" and settled in Nyanga, Langa, Gugulethu and later in new squatter areas such as Crossroads, Browns Farm and Samora Machel. Philippi increasingly became a place of refuge from the political conflict and violence in the former homelands. (Gerry Adlard’s 2009 historical profile of Philippi).
Today Philippi is one of Cape Town’s largest townships. It lies sandwiched between Ottery, Hanover Park, Grassy Park, Mitchells Plain and Manenberg on what is known as the "Cape Flats". According to the “SAEP Philippi Community Profile” (updated 2014):
"Of the population group between ages 15 and 64, 38.18% is unemployed, and 41.87% is employed. Students make up 48.76% of the Philippi population. 7.89% of the Philippi population are homemakers or housewives and 7.74% of the population is unemployed due to disability or illness. 19.82% of the Philippi population cannot find work. All these groups are economically inactive. Currently, the household income in Philippi is low –51.8% of the population earns between 0 and R1 600 per month, which translates from 0 to R19 200 per year."
During the apartheid era Philippi was a battleground, and today still faces massive challenges like poverty, unemployment, overcrowding and susceptibility to fire and flooding due to the failures of post-apartheid initiatives to bring (socio-economic) reconstruction and development to the area. Due mainly to these appalling socio-economic conditions, gang violence has turned Philippi into a war zone (again) as rival gangs fight for “territory” and dominance.
Newspaper headlines provide some idea of 2019 conditions:
"As army deployment is delayed, 43 murdered over bloody Cape Town weekend"
Times Live,2019-07-12 18:45
….it has emerged that 43 people were killed between Friday and Monday in the Cape Flats.
This was also despite a heightened police presence in some of Cape Town's most violent areas, such as Philippi where 13 people were killed the previous weekend.
"SAPS Anti-Gang Unit fed bullets in Philippi"
Weekend Argus,16 June 2019
Cape Town - “IF crime was food, I would say it is cooked there.”
That’s how chairman of the Samora Machel Community Police Forum…. described his shock at the brazen attack on members of the SAPS’s Anti-Gang Unit…
Five police officers were shot when they came under fire in Sweet Home Farm informal settlement in Philippi. They were on a tracking operation for murder suspects. Two officers were critically injured in the shooting.
What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)
What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?
Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.
Current 2020 - Soil in the township is very poor and consists mainly of sand as the place’s nickname, "The Dunes", states. Local community members use container gardening with any old buckets or bathtubs to create a small space where they can enhance the soil to a level where they can grow at least the bare minimum.
Future 2050 – Continued deterioration due to no regeneration led to a situation were no plants grow naturally in the soil. Philippi is a barren place where the rain now wreaks more havoc than ever before and flooding of roads, yards and homes is a common occurrence. Home gardening has become too cumbersome to practise.
Current 2020 - up to 27% of children under three suffer from stunting in South Africa. This means that both their physical as well as brain growth is hampered due to lack of proper nutrition. Community members are buying from "spaza shops" that do not have the capability to keep produce fresh. The produce travels many "food miles" and lose a lot of nutrients.
Future 2050 – The Philippi community members do not have the education or financial means to buy from shops that can ensure the nutritional quality they need. People are desperate for food and are being used as a testing ground for new mass-produced cheap products.
Current 2020 - The system of centralised, big agricultural production has reduced the Philippi's community to powerless buyers and consumers of food. The shops in the townships are known as "Spaza shops" who have no bulk buying power and pay excessively for fresh produce.
Future 2050 – As poverty has grown people has turned into the cheapest labour that will work – and do – anything for a living. Everything had contributed to a "spiral of violence" where insecurity and fear is the norm of the day.
Current 2020 - The youth is struggling to find economic opportunities and employment, and more and more are relying on gangs to provide a sense of belonging and purpose.
Future 2050 –The area has become totally uncontrollable and turned into a lawless space with violence as an only option.
Current 2020 - Low education levels are a big problem in Philippi and projects that have tried to implement technology driven solutions have not always considered this. Community members had to receive extensive support which caused these initiatives to fail as soon as direct support ended.
Future 2050 – Due to the socio-economic conditions that prevented and hindered the aspirations for proper schooling and education, community members are unskilled and unable to adapt to a fast-changing macro context.
Current 2020 - Government has implemented mostly reactive policies to alleviate
poverty and unemployment and has done very little to facilitate the mind-set changes needed for progress.
Future 2050 – Both government and the private sector has written off communities like Philippi and are focussing more and more only on security and reactive measures.
Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.
Current 2020 - The African Grower is a vertical garden with a high yield and no need for soil. It uses coconut coir as a growing medium making it 10 times more water efficient. Because the system is suspended above the soil, the soil can be regenerated below it.
Future 2050 - Because the soil has received compost (made from food waste), the topsoil in back-yards has turned from barren land to fertile growing space.
Current 2020 – Community members can now start growing their own produce at home ensuring the freshest and most nutrient rich produce is worked into their diets. As they save money from eating out of their own garden they can spend it on other necessities.
Future 2050 – Because of the healthy diets consisting of fresh produce grown in their own gardens the youth is now able to benefit from education and also participate in sports more actively.
Current 2020 – Because community members are now growing their own food, they are saving money that can be used on areas like skills development. As the community members start to scale their African Growers it becomes an enterprise opportunity.
Future 2050 – As the community members have scaled up their gardens and become self-reliant they are able to use their money for bettering their standards of living.
Current 2020 – A culture of self-reliance is being developed by teaching inhabitants to start growing their own produce and once they have excess, they can start their own businesses.
Future 2050 – The food (and wider) economy of Philippi has become self-reliant and they can feed themselves. They are supporting and growing their internal economy and becoming proud of their achievements.
Current 2020 – As the Africanised hybrid hydroponics system was easy to construct, use and maintain, it gave everyone the confidence to grow their own produce at home and even scale up to start an enterprise opportunity.
Future 2050 – Because the range of technologies introduced were always in line with people's abilities, community members have built confidence in using technology and scaled-up to build food processing facilities - even in their own yards.
Current 2020 – The growing system created a mind-shift in community members and assisted them to support policies that empower them rather than creating "hand-out" mentalities.
Future 2050 – Philippe has become an economic powerhouse and policy reference and guidance point of a self-sufficient township with a growing local economy.
High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.
Philippi, Cape Flats: A socio-economically transformed Place of Progress that was initiated through a redesigned food system.
A picture of a food secure township that has become an inspiration for South Africa in showing what can be achieved through cooperation towards a re-designed food system which not only uses lightly, but also regenerates natural resources while acting as a catalyst for new dreams, knowledge and actions at individual and communal level. The approach and technology utilised was not only a re-designed (and regenerative) food system, but it has guided a major mind-shift to occur within the community. Community members have taken ownership of their own futures through the development of a systemic and holistic approach to food production – growing and processing – which had spin-offs in all areas of communal life. Once an individual (or family) did not have to struggle to have nutritious food on the table their thinking and doing was freed up and directed to the improvement of all areas of their lives.
Philippi – once a “suicidal” township - has become food self-reliant and is producing surplus which is exported to the larger Cape Flats and Cape Town. “Resource drainage” has been stopped and value addition to (“back-yard”) primary production is happening at “home-base” with new money flowing into the (very) local economy from the larger Cape context. Education levels and standards of living is rising all over Philippi and members are productive and proud citizens of the larger Southern Africa.
Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?
About Sakhulwazi Woman's Hub - our first "Home Farming Hub"
A Systems view on re-designed township food system
Athi Saki: one of the very early "Home Growers"
Basic starting configuration of our early technology.
Thobeka Baartman: another very early "Home Grower"
Implementing one of our 40 household projects in Philippi
The early African Grower Kit with everything needed to start growing at home fitted into a 40cm x 30cm x 30cm box
Systems view of Modernisation /Transformation of contexts with a human component
Philippi, Cape Flats: A Place of Possibility and Hope through food
I am theoretically old now – beyond 60 – and am supposed to be contemplating retirement as I sit here on the dune overlooking Philippi! (;-) Yet I feel invigorated and motivated to do more as I see the buzz in the streets below and remember how we got here.
At Fresh Life Produce we were committed to showing the world that there is an alternative to the thinking that we need to have a few large-scale producers to feed households and entire cities. We passionately believed (and still do) that we all can become our own “mini” producers who collectively work together to fight the growing food production challenge in a sustainable and resource efficient manner.
Our 2020 vision was to create a “township” that would be a thriving beacon of hope and (food) productivity that could illustrate what was possible by changing mindsets (and actions) of community members around food production and consumption from a passive, consumptive state to active, productive producers and masters of their own fate.
The first signal (that change was possible) was when our new growing technology was easily adopted on a large scale. This initial adoption of the system as well as the processes, people, and structures we put in place to support it, contributed extensively to large-scale systemic change.
We have since then confirmed that sustainable outcomes (i.e. permanent changes in behaviour) were dependent on an iterative process of changing how people “see” (awareness and desires), “know” (external information and internal knowledge) and “do” (technology and ability)! This change approach was further strengthened through the statements on systemic needs for change (in systems with a human component) which resulted from research done in the mining context of South Africa during 2019 on human factors in modernisation - as depicted in the attached diagram.
As "home farming" continued to develop in Philippi, we realised the need for a systems approach to keep the growth alive and to guide it towards large-scale effect and change. We embarked on this future pathway by taking 3 crucial, initial steps:
Step 1: Establishing “Home Farming Hubs” that acted as central bases of support for the "Home Farmers" and the "Agripreneur" networks. These trusted and local Hubs acted as demonstrators to the community of all the technologies we introduced over time and their capabilities, use and maintenance. It was also the "place of learning" which provided opportunities for both theoretical and practical learning as well as "post learning" coaching and mentoring services delivered by the network of "Agripreneurs". We were very quickly forced to create multiple revenue streams for the Hubs to assure sustainability of the support services based here. We started strengthening the (politically popular) co-operatives (primary, secondary as well as tertiary) model through training and establishment services but in a manner that was focussed both on the collectiveness (ubuntu) embedded in our African cultures as well as on individual responsibility, contribution and participation - an approach we ended-up calling socialist-capitalism! (See the attached diagram for the work and focus of the Hubs in the bigger scheme of things)
Step 2: Establishing networks of "Agripreneurs" (multi-purpose change and support agents) who both initiated and supported their own new "Home Farmer" networks which they supported with food technology (initially our African Growers), logistics, financial and non-financial services in a subscription manner which ensured their ongoing commitment and sustainability. (Also reflected in the attached diagram)
Step 3: Developing support (training, maintenance and advisory material) at a national "back-office" to support both the Hubs and the Agripreneurs in a virtual "hand-holding-of-the-hand-holders" manner. The "back-office" was also responsible for the development, deployment and maintenance of reliable Information and Communication Technology (ICT) systems - the "glue" - needed at all points in the network.
Looking back at the humble beginnings, I can only marvel at how far we have come!
The Hubs have turned into places of both learning, support and local value addition for crops where larger volumes are needed for marketable value-added products like spinach-pasta and similar products.
The Agripreneurs have turned into sophisticated logistics and payment networks where cargo e-bikes (originally introduced from Sharpeville, another historical township in South Africa) are now supplemented with drones (both quadcopter and VTOL-types) that both take care of input deliveries (seedlings, plant food and pest control) to households as well as real-time, "Home Farm" product deliveries to internal (Philippi) as well as external (Cape Flats and Cape Town) destinations.
The "back-office" (and ICT systems) - and consolidated data warehousing and analysis - provided the network with the ability to introduce traceability, reliability and responsibility into all activities in the network. We realized very early in our ventures that accurate and reliable data was crucial for both the ongoing understanding of the context in which we were operating as well as for the ongoing monitoring and evaluation of what we were collectively achieving. In partnership with a range of technology partners we therefore developed a range of both "front-desk" (mostly mobile) and "back-office" ICT platforms that allowed us to know the status of all elements and transactions in the network and identify areas that needed attention in real time.
By always using appropriate Technology and ensuring adoption, we were able to help improve the Environment by giving people the ability to start growing fresh produce at home and use much less water than growing in soil. Because the system did not need the barren soil from the area (coconut coir as a growing medium), we allowed the soil to be rejuvenated through the establishment of composting as a standard practice. Because people could sustainably grow fresh produce at home, they were able to incorporate those nutritional crops into their Diets - making sure they received the maximum nutrients possible without the adverse effect of extensive “food miles”. Variety in the diets were also increased as additional (nutritious) options became possible – especially under the influence of Cape Town’s “fusion” culture - and the dependency on starches (“pap” or porridge) decreased. The percentage of infants and young children who were victims of “stunting” was drastically reduced due to children receiving the nutrients they needed from the fresh produce grown at home. This ensured that they did not have a mental or physical backlog to other children and gave them a better chance at education and of becoming productive members of their societies.
As soon as the households built confidence in their growing capabilities, they started expanding their facilities and added more African Growers as well as other technologies to their home gardens. As they started to produce excess and they realised they could sell it to surrounding community members (and further), they became productive members of the Economy. Creating an additional source of income - and because they were spending less on buying fresh produce from the local spaza shops - they now had more money to spend on education and lifting their standard of living. The Culture of being powerless consumers started to change into productive mind-sets and the more they accomplished the more they wanted to achieve – a positive and upward spiral of growth that was reinforcing itself. Community members started to become proud of what they accomplished and their surrounding environment. As they became open to the use of Technology, they took on bigger challenges and expanded their knowledge to other areas of expertise. We could assist them to establish value adding food production facilities - even at home! Because of the enhanced productivity of the community they could start exporting their products (and technologies) to surrounding communities. As the community grew more self-sufficient they become part of the local and national Policy process as they were leading the way and were able to provide tried and tested input into government (at all levels) new food and local development policies (and undertakings) in similar (township) and even more rural areas.
I am sitting here thinking of the possible way forward of which some next steps might be:
- Partnering with the National Department of Health to identify key clinics in communities to convert into “home farming hubs” to also introduce an element of preventative care in the healthcare system.
- “Virtualise” the training of youth nationally to become “Agripreneurs” who can manage and maintain the “home farming hubs”;
- Assisting in continuously shortening the “farm-to-plate” journey by linking more and more “Home Farmers” to local businesses and homes through the mechanisms of enhanced reliability and traceability provided by the “taming” of new technologies like blockchain and crypto currency; and
- Expand the learning from the Western Cape to the rest of the Continent and the World!
Part of my personal passion had been to show that a young person could contribute extensively to the food future and welfare of our beloved country. I have been hoping to show (to some extent) that us youth, who have the same pride and love for South Africa as any other productive member of our wonderful country, can make a positive and impactful difference through re-designed food systems and holistic approaches in places that need it most.
How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?
Describe how your Vision developed over the course of the Refinement Phase.
As our Food Vision grew from the roots we have already sunk into Africa’s Southern soil, we used the Refinement Phase for 5 purposes:
1. Plotting our Strategy and pathway to the future;
2. Enhancing our perspective on development and refining our underlying "systems engine";
3. Sharpening our Vision;
4. Clarifying our Theory of Change (ToC); and
5. Incorporating the lessons learned from the COVID-19 crisis.
We used the broad thinking (and questions) of “Strategic Doing”, i.e. (1) What could we do? and (2) What should we do? as well as (3) What will we do? and (4) What do our past and future 30 days look like? (Morrison, 2014). As the COVID 19 crisis emphasised the interconnected nature of the world, it led us to strengthen our view of the systemic basis of Food Systems. We deepened and refined our “POET” (People, Organisation, Environment and Technology) systems “engine” which we used for: (a) the design and (b) the evaluation of the pathways towards our Future Food System.
Please provide the names of all organizations you meaningfully partnered with to develop this latest version of your Vision (they contributed at least 10 hours of time to the Vision development during the Refinement Phase).
Morrison's approach helped us to decide on the stakeholders with whom we wanted to pursue targeted outcomes. We cooperated with: (1) Local CBO; (2) government; (3) academia; (4) private sector; (5) entrepreneurial individuals; (6) International Development Initiatives; and (7) Artists.
We explored alignment, objectives, and common outcomes with:
1. Sakhulwazi Food Hub;
2. Western Cape of Wellness (WoW) (Increased Wellness and effective clinics to include nutrition) and Project Koba-Tlala of the SA National Defence Force (Government socio-economic development and utilisation of local producers near bases);
3. Impact Advantage (Academia with sustainability focus) and REEDiSA (socio-economic development experts);
4. Food Lovers Market (Private Sector CSI and formal value chains in the food industry);
5. Vulingqondo Innovation Hub (Prospective distribution Agent);
6. UNDP Cultivate Initiative (International Cooperation); and
7. A Graphic Artist (Visualise our dream).
Describe the specific steps you took during the Refinement phase to include different stakeholders to develop your Vision, including a description (age, profile, and total number) of the stakeholders engaged, and how you engaged with each.
Using Morrison’s methodology, we identified 3 specific areas in which we wanted to further engage stakeholders during the Refinement Phase. These were: (1) A “People” focus where we wanted to engage with “Home Growers”, “Hub Staff” and “Agripreneurs”; (2) An “Organisational” focus where we wanted to engage with institutions with nutrition and food security objectives; and (3) A "Technology" Focus around ICT systems, irrigation and vertical growing configurations.
Our engagements therefore were:
1. People Focus: “Home Growers”: (a) 55-year male (Town Planner and Researcher). Started March 2020 and tracked his progress and challenges during the period of Refinement through mobile phone, WhatsApp (including visuals) and Zoom interactions; and (b) 60-year woman (female, retired teacher) who started a new configuration of vertical growers and new crops at the outset of the Refinement phase. Physically shared premises and tracked her progress and challenges.
2. Organisational Focus: Interacted with: (a) Western Cape WoW! (51-year male, Deputy Director: Increasing Wellness) via email and mobile phone through the sharing of the Refined Vision and incorporating comments and suggestions; and (b) Sakhulwazi Women's Hub (Mama Rose Makosa, 50 years, female, chairperson and team of 3 ladies aged between 45 and 55) physical interaction for a week in mid-March and again in mid-May while erecting the next generation of vertical growing technology.
3. Technology Focus: Interacted with: (a) Impact Advantage (52-year, female, Systems and Sustainability Expert in the field of Technology Application for Development) through physical meetings and ongoing emails regarding the underlying systems model we developed jointly; and (b) senior analyst and developer from Pandion (65 years, male) through physical visits (before lockdown) and continuous Zoom sessions while he was enhancing our software platform during the Refinement phase.
What signals and trends did you draw from to inform your Vision? Please provide data or examples that back up each signal or trend.
We used our POET model to look for trends and signals at a more detailed level. We specifically looked for “sub-system” level trends and “edge” level signals indicating “flow” between subsystems! (see: Principles in “Regenerative Capitalism” - especially “Edge effect Abundance”) (Fullerton, 2015)
Identified trends in the People, Organisation, Environment and Technology ("POET") sub-systems:
1. COVID-19 witnessed diminishing effectiveness of central governments to provide economic and social benefits to all its people. This seems to lead to “Localisation” of control, e.g. SA parliament allowed cities in 2020 to generate their own electricity. This “local control” trend can easily expand to food provision; (Organisational /Control trend)
2. Growing population with a very large component of (unemployed) youth further contributing to the complexity of challenge for centralised economic growth due to low skills, low experience levels and high frustration levels; (People /Demographic trend)(Coulibaly, 2020)
3. Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) with the development of “humane” technologies: e.g. (1) “wearable” computing systems; the (2) engineering focussed on ‘people-centred technologies’ ; (3) 3D printing for (human) maintenance purposes (COVID-19) (https://www.engineeringforchange.org/) and (4) solar powered cargo bicycles from “anywhere.berlin” in Sharpeville as a signal of “just-in-time” local logistics; and (5) South African leadership in and use of Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) drone technology (see: https://www.altiuas.com/); (Technology trends)
Identified signals on the sub-system “edges” (between subsystems):
1. Enhanced visibility of shortcomings of “first aid” socio-economic development interventions (e.g. food parcel distribution during COVID-19 lockdown) to fix underlying structural faults in the economic system. These seem to signal “whole system failure” and could provide motivation for systemic reforms; (A possible signal of a change in “Benefit” definition?)
2. Evidence of quick adoption by “Base-of-Pyramid” (BoP) of “self-help” nutrition by the poorest of the poor (“indigents” of our project in Philippi) as well as changing middle-class interest in own food engagement during COVID 19 as a signal of changed food production mindsets? (Ease of Adoption of technology signal?)
3. Widely adopted (remote) collaboration during COVID 19 as a signal of the future of work in loose networks (at people network level) (possible signal of dealing with diminished Agency as well as inadequate capacity of government to provide wide-reaching systemic support?); and
4. The ‘marriage’ of “Big” (global, low resolution) and “Small” (local, high resolution) spatialised data - specifically in the field of agriculture to enhance transparency and communal sharing of data and knowledge (CSIR, 2018). (Defining Benefit signal?).
Describe a “Day in the Life” of a key food system actor within your food system in 2050 (e.g., farmer, chef, supply chain actor, food policy actor, etc.).
It is 2050 and Philippi has achieved Food Security through sufficient local production, effective internal logistics, enhanced preparation and nutrition, and a socio-economically stable community. We used the FAO view of 2020 to guide us towards this achievement.
Meet Rebecca Makosa, daughter of Mama Rose Makosa who participated in the first pilot of “home growers” in 2019. Rebecca was 15 years old at that stage but was “infected” by the dream of a different food future and is now 45 after following her dream of becoming a professional chef. She obtained specialised training in food processing and runs a kitchen and processing facility in her garage by using room adaptation technology that converts the garage into a fully functional high-tech kitchen during the day. She wakes up at 05:30 and makes a healthy breakfast for the family. She then checks her mobile app to determine the state of plants in surrounding gardens to make harvesting decisions and to create processing instructions for her team and awaits her first orders from her varied client base. By 07:30 the first deliveries are picked up by Uber Drone Service and are on their way to the clients.
She has trained 10 ladies from the community to run "township" cooking classes for tourists. At 09:00 she attends to a group of visitors till 15:00. At 15:30 she and the community board members sit to plan and organise the production schedules of the various co-operatives to ensure fairness and quality supply to the surrounding government facilities which they supply. They also discuss their plans to start their own drone delivery service for all the local kitchens due to Uber Drone Service being too expensive for their liking.
At 17:30 Rebecca heads home and receives an digital update about the day's activities at her small processing facility. At 18:00 she closes the facility and joins the family for a home cooked vegan dinner and smiles at the amazing things her family has accomplished.
Environment | How will your food system of 2050 adapt to climate change and remain resilient?
We are overlaying the 6 identified Themes in the Food System Vision “book” onto our underlying People, Organisation, Environment and Technology (“POET”) systems model for innovation (finalised during 2019 and based on research we did over a period of 25 years) (See: ). From this “overlay” we can derive interactions and mutual influences amongst the different themes from their placement on the underlying systems model. It is thus possible to see how changes in any one of the constituent sub-systems (People, Organisation, Environment and Technology) can - and will - influence other components of the system.
Our main emphasis is on people as the main actors in the Food System of the future. Our system’s ability to adapt to climate change and maintain resilience in 2050 is a product of their ability to behave differently with regards to the “resource base” and their choices as to how they will organise themselves.
In Philippi crops have been taken off the land without returning nutrients to the soil. This ‘mining’ of the topsoil has occurred for many years and has completely drained much of Philippi’s soil to make it an almost barren sandy desert where plants struggle to grow. The only way many of the community members are managing to grow food is by using scrap yard containers and filling them with replacement soil. The African Grower is designed to be able to grow food in the air while the soil underneath the system rests and can be regenerated in a targeted manner. Good, healthy, nutrient rich run-off water from the system also replenishes surrounding soil. We teach community members to use mulch to keep run-off water for longer in the soil so that it has time to establish healthy microorganism colonies and grow healthy bacterial systems which regenerates it so that one day they can grow food in the soil again.
The POET Systems Model indicates that a positive effect on the performance of the system is achieved when co-creation, re-generation and enabling “flows” co-exist. The technologies described under “Technology” will enable people to co-create organisations and systems which effectively regenerate environmental resources. The regeneration of environmental resources will support human and societal vitality, through strengthened food systems. The thorough understanding of agro-ecological principles, that home farmers and Agripreneurs gain through training and practice, will result in the efficient management of natural resources. Established policies and structures will increase local resilience to food system shocks.
Our model of developing localised food economies based on integrating small, local enterprises will effectively shorten food chains, thereby reducing food miles and subsequent greenhouse gas emissions. The diversifying and localising of food production and supply will decrease the community’s exposure to price fluctuation, brought on by shocks (droughts, floods, severe storms etc.) to the global food supply chain.
The integration of logistics vehicles powered by renewable energy systems and drone technology along the food value chain enables home farmers to supply produce to consumers in a manner that is energy-consumption-conscious, and timely, reducing food wastage. The integration of these technologies reduces the dependence of the food system on fuel for operation.
The design of The African Grower will allow for efficient adaptation to climate change. Following heavy winter rainfall, surface flooding is common across 30% of the Philippi horticultural area. Climate change is predicted to increase the intensity of rainfall. In the event of heavy rainfall and flooding, our system ensures resilience, due to the system being suspended in the air above the ground. Furthermore, climate change poses a threat of flooding during seasons where farmers are not prepared for heavy rainfall. As a result, planting and harvesting activities will get disrupted. The nature of our system allows for year-round planting and harvesting activities, thereby allowing for resilience of the food system and continued food supply in the face of climate change in the year 2050. Along with reduced competition for land to cultivate food, the system uses 10% of the water required for growing food in soil, thus reducing pressure on an already stressed water supply. The nature of food production in our food system will drive sustainable land and water management, thus contributing to enhanced rainwater infiltration and replenishment of groundwater, and aids in flood buffering. The reduced dependence on agro-chemicals (and resulting pollution) will aid in the management and subsequent improvement of the water quality and recharging of the Cape Flats Aquifer, the most important source of water for the Philippi farming area.
Diets | How will your food system of 2050 address malnutrition in all its forms (undernutrition, micronutrient deficiency, metabolic disease) for the people living there?
Our take on the Diet component of our Future Food System is to approach it as part of a more comprehensive and systemic bundle of interventions to happen within the community. To achieve this “bigger, systemic mix”, we have partnered with WoW! (Western Cape on Wellness) since 2020 and have made amazing strides in getting the people of Philippi to become more healthy life-style conscious and fitness orientated. The Fresh Life Produce and WoW! partnership aims to co-create a culture of wellness in the Western Cape through “change agents” (Agripreneur) development that will result in knowledge and skills transfer to the Philippi community. The cooperation is now aimed at the inclusion of food gardening towards strengthening food security, healthy eating and exercise, and aimed at the addressing of the challenge of “stunting” (under-nourishment in infants) (Murray, 2017) and the strengthening of social connectedness, inclusiveness, and gender equality. The agents are being enabled to provide assistance at a “food system level” to address issues of undernutrition, micronutrient deficiency and metabolic diseases.
Below is an outline of how we currently co-operate to holistically assist the community to become aware of the power they have to live a different and more healthy life. The approach we have started to follow consists of:
1. The WCGDoH WoW! team, in partnership with Fresh Life Produce trains all the Food Hub Agripreneurs as group leaders. They are then able to generate income from food production, health and fitness advice, and gathering local data for health organisations.
2. The WoW! team trains the Agripreneurs with the necessary skills to promote active, healthy lifestyles at personal, household and community levels. Their knowledge and skills on the latest in nutrition, diet and exercise routines are updated through refresher courses on a weekly basis.
3. Households that use the African Grower system have been divided into groups. Each group has an Agripreneurs allocated to them who now have these dual roles: they assist with the use of African Growers in the community and gathering of progress (Monitoring and Evaluation) data by undertaking monthly site visits and they also provide homes with broad-based health advice.
4. The Food Hubs and Fresh Life Produce (FLP) regularly invites and hosts the WCGDoH WoW! Team and a variety of famous chefs and fitness experts to present Healthy Eating and Exercise Workshops for the community beneficiaries in Philippi. We are planning to have the workshops stream live into all the households through a free local wide area network. The streaming should also be accessible through wearable computing devices like smart watches.
5. Currently all community beneficiaries are added to the free WoW! communication platforms to receive 3-weekly healthy-lifestyle-promoting, “call-to-action” messages from famous celebrities that have joined the movement, including motivational, healthy eating, and physical activity tips from them.
6. Monthly reports are sent to the Department of health and FLP to create valuable trend-analysis reports to track the community’s progress.
7. Once WoW! Champions have undergone the training and become Agripreneurs, they will assist Fresh Life Produce in adding to the Food Hub a wellness centre - in future with room adaptation technology - they will receive from WOW. Technology will be able to turn the room into any type of fitness centre with a push of a button - from a Joga centre to a boxing gym.
Our plans and dreams for the future use and enablement of "WoW! Champions cum Agripreneurs” are as follows:
1. All the members in their group have wrist watches with information sharing capabilities. They record holographic messages that inform them of different prevention, reduction and control methods of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol through self-managed healthy lifestyle actions.
2. The watches can scan an individual (blood sample) for any undernutrition, micronutrient deficiency, metabolic diseases, and all-round health challenges. It then feeds the information to an app on their phone that can communicate with the sensors in their African Grower garden and all gardens surrounding the household. The app informs them what diet they could follow and what ingredients are available in the nearby gardens. If there are any ingredients not available in their personal garden, the app suggests the closest garden with the necessary ingredients. All this info is sent back to the Agripreneurs so that they can follow up and assist with diet challenges.
3. All accumulated data will be fed into Artificial Intelligence (AI) assisted software systems so that custom made fitness programs can be sent out to participants. While eating and doing exercises, the watch will monitor the intake and movements and advise on necessary adjustments.
Economics | Where and what will the jobs be that support living wages in your future food system of 2050, and how will these jobs impact gender equality?
As the macro context will have become too populous and complex for “high level manipulation”, future jobs will (probably) not be created exclusively by “big” entities like government and private sector corporations as much as in the past. The “big hand, top down” approach might also increasingly be falling out of favour for its propensity to being environmentally unsustainable and generating social divides. Progress will therefore increasingly depend on local skills, effort, and entrepreneurial activity. Jobs (or economic engagement) will have to come from the informal and communal contexts. These jobs will therefore be less defined and more fluid and entrepreneurial, adapting to change in the local contexts. Gender equality will not be a function of legislation or “enforced” equality but will be a function of equal regard by people for the utility of every one’s role in the local context to enhance the survival and thriving of the local community. In our Future Food system these opportunities will be supplied by: “home growers” - traditionally and culturally the turf of women; Agripreneurs /Nutri-advisors /personal trainers; Hub-staff and other ‘new’ jobs and functions within - and related to - the Food System. Changing the local economy into, primarily, a technology-supported “knowledge economy”, should lead to less of a built-in masculine bias in comparison with the current “industrial economy”.
It is further clear from our underlying model that the larger economic landscape finds itself in interaction with both the environment and technology - resource context - and societal spheres and changes in the one will have “edge” effects in the other (See: Capital Institute). Since the formal economy (government and big business) will have less employment capacity, people in local communities will have to develop a self-employment mindset and make use of appropriate (“small”) technology for small-scale production, processing and distribution in the Food System.
In South Africa, the extreme disparities between the employed participants in the formal economy and those members of poor communities in the informal economy have become thoroughly conspicuous with the event of the COVID-19 crisis. A “return to normal” does not seem possible as the crisis had intensified and highlighted the “brokenness” of the “old, normal (capital owned) economy”. Re-considered definitions of “Benefit” (see POET model) in the interplay between organisation (participating in the economy) and the resource contexts (environment and technology) will be essential to ensure real (beyond window-dressing) and extensive inclusion of (at least) Profit, People and Planet in future new definitions! This re-defined “Benefit” should also contribute to a more “open” view of the economy where ownership of capital should not (again) be the main criteria for ownership of economic opportunities. People capable of “Home Growing” primary produce in the back yards (or on their roofs) should have unhindered access pathways to economic participation in the local and broader economy. Linking “informal” to “informal” (food producers, processors, logistics operators, retailers and consumers) in Philippi (as representing future communities) through the intermediation of the Food Hub and the Agripreneur networks should become the “new normal” in our Future Food System.
The local Food Hub will play an important role as the local “place of light, liberty and learning” (Disraeli, 1873) where the co-creation of the local “enlightened” economy will be driven from grass roots by the participants in the future food-based economy. Even if the Hub takes on a more “distributed” (and perhaps virtual) nature in future, it should stay the visible and tangible “Ubuntu” (togetherness) place for the local community - the local “kgotla” (decision making) seat of the community where fairness, trust and participation is ensured through equitable sharing of responsibilities and benefits. As the place of “learning’, it will also be the place where the local data and knowledge bases get created and distributed from. The datasets which will drive the local economy (on all participation in the whole of the local food value chain) will be open and transparent so as to assist with the spirit of co-creation and ownership. The knowledge base - and all learning and development material emanating from it - will have a distinct local flavour and will be focussed on the empowerment of every participating local member.
Culture | How will your 2050 food system ensure that the cultural, spiritual and community traditions and/or practices in your Place flourish?
The culture – as the outcome of people’s interaction with their context – in the community of participants in our future Food Vision will have a more fluid and local (township) flavour while possibly retaining only remote links to its (tribal) origins. The local context will therefore drive the behaviour of people and will shape the values which, in turn, will drive the changes in the history and destiny of the local place (see: Jeremy Lent’s “The Patterning Instinct”, 2017). Due to diminished visits to – and reduced influence of - consumer-focussed places like large shopping malls (which tend to “create” tertiary needs), there could be some return to more basic (food) needs - as seen during COVID-19 in some households.
The Philippi area encompasses a distinctive cultural landscape. The historical layering of the area reflects the broad patterns and processes underpinning both South Africa and Cape Town’s history, ranging from the Early Stone Age, to the herder and early contact period, through to the colonial and apartheid era, to the present democratic period. The cultural landscape has been shaped predominantly through agricultural activities, accompanied by a shift towards becoming a location of urban fringe activities from the mid-20th century onwards, which together with a rapid increase in urbanisation, threatened local culture and traditions through the melting-pot effect. Culture is the outcome of a system, developed from interactions of individuals within their local context. This view of culture drove the development of an inclusive system, incorporating strong local contexts, with a unique flavour and make-up, ensuring that the culture and the traditions of the area flourish in the year 2050.
Our localised food supply chain supports local food initiatives and the action of the local community. For example, the local Food Hub will facilitate the food-based economy, while acting as a central point for community members to come together to make decisions. The grassroots nature of the system, particularly with regard to organisations, will drive community participation, ensuring that the local context is preserved at every step of the food system. The Food Hub will support local small enterprises ranging from home farmers, through to local food markets and distribution agents. This will drive a vibrant, highly innovative civil society sector within Philippi by 2050, incorporating a range of roles, including facilitators, conveners, social change mobilizers, service providers, and micro-entrepreneurs. Civil society will be well-informed through local knowledge shared and local data distributed and shared at the Food Hub. Consequently, when engaging with relevant stakeholder networks or councils, civil actors (from the local community) will effectively assist the planning, implementation and governance of need-focused (to local context) policies and programmes which have impacts on the community.
By 2050, the thriving local food-based economy will also reduce the dependence of locals on large supermarkets. Supermarkets currently tend to reduce individuals into convenience shoppers, and often push Western Diets while removing traditional consumption and preparation methods. Ease of access to locally grown produce, together with knowledge gained from the WoW! initiative, and knowledge shared at the Food Hub, households will shift towards food consumption and preparation methods which are more closely linked to the local context, fused with perhaps some residue of cultural origins.
The African Grower system was developed in cooperation with Sakhulwazi Women's hub, ensuring also the inclusion of local artistic flavours - in the form of "shweshwe" covers for the pods - from the start. Promoting agency by enabling individuals, and subsequently the community as a whole, through context-specific resources both nurtures and promotes local culture, ensuring that by 2050, all technology and knowledge inputs and organisational processes utilised along the food-value chain will be influenced by local needs and preferences. This prevents the homogenising of culture through a top-down approach to system regeneration.
Technology | What technological advances are needed to transform your food system into one that meets your goals and embodies the values of your Vision in 2050?
The POET systems model, which we use as an underlying “design template”, has helped us to be very aware of the fact that both the societal context (with its associated human behaviour) as well as the economic context (and specific organisational make-up) have a substantial influence on the nature and adoption of any technology in the future food system. It would therefore be futile to consider technology trends without viewing it within the broader systemic picture. It also needs to be stated that we view technology as an enabler of people and will endeavour to ensure that people do not get enslaved to /by technology in our future Food System.
One of the important characteristics of the much hyped 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) seems to be the integration which blurs the boundaries between the different “types” of technologies. This integration between different types of technologies - e.g. biotechnology and computing technology - can further assist the “humanisation” of technology - i.e. very tight integration with human behaviour. The “Internet of Things” (IoT) can contribute extensively to this integration but care should be taken not to reduce people to “just another brick /cog (thing) in the wall /wheel (network) (apologies, Pink Floyd)”! It therefore seems as if current progress is pointing to a development stage where technology truly becomes an “enabler” - and extender - of human effort and not the “influencer” (or “director”) of human behaviour – as was the case in the industrial revolution.
We could therefore have a scenario where local social and organisation realities drive the research, development and implementation (RDI) of technology. It will mean that these RDI skills will be “localised” to enable the “community of practice” to create their own technology platforms as the need arises. In simplifying the design and supply of agro-technologies extensively, local manufacturing through technologies like 3D printing and injection moulding - utilising recycled plastics - could provide a lot of the needed technology components for urban agriculture.
The more critical technologies needed for our Food Hubs and Agripreneur - and home grower - networks seems to be: (1) “ruggedised (and wearable)” information and communication technology (ICT) systems; (2) “people-centred” agricultural technologies for very intensive, small-scale primary production as well as local, small-scale processing; (3) “localised” maintenance technologies like 3D printing - including “additive manufacturing” with advance materials like titanium for tooling as well as maintenance purposes; (4) renewable energy systems, e.g. solar, wind and wave movement, which can power future local logistics with much lower power demands than current (large) logistics vehicles, e.g. the cargo bicycles from “anywhere.berlin” currently on trial in Sharpeville; (5) Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) drone technology for both agricultural and logistics use; and (6) (very) low cost, low power wide area networks (WANs)(6th Generation cellular or wireless “mesh” networks?) in the local community which provides for the fast, reliable, secure and cheap flow of data, information, knowledge and decisions - as well as any other needed element of the “knowledge economy” - in the local (township) context.
Another big area for technology advancement for our Hubs, producers and “extension” workers (Agripreneurs) is in the space of “softer technological advancements” like the ‘marriage’ of “big” (global, low resolution) and “small” (local, high resolution) spatialised data - specifically in the field of agriculture - to enhance detail and transparency and sharing of data. Easy-to-use (and to update) local information systems - and accompanying data sets - will support planning, execution and monitoring (and evaluation) of production, processing, logistics and sales activities in a transparent manner through the whole of the community. This will contribute extensively to trust, participation and cooperation.
We are confident that the years ahead will see extensive technology developments that respond faster to local needs and which are produced through very local (in city, in community) research and development activities especially in the ICT and agricultural fields. We have already seen how people’s sensitivity to the environment and resource usage, for example the sensitivity towards the (single) use of plastics and our response with recycled, multi-year (10 year) growing systems as well as changing demands and expectations of agriculture - for example sensitivities about use of chemicals for plant food and pesticides - has led to new technological advancements at the micro level, e.g. controlled release fertilisers, in the agricultural space.
Policy | What types of policies are needed to enable your future food system?
From the overlay of the “policy” theme on our POET model we can, for example, see policy in the interaction zone between societies and their larger economic (and organisational) context. This analysis, together with M. Will’s understanding (Roduner, 2005), enable us to identify the areas where policies and regulations have an influence more clearly on the (township) food value chains. The internal (to the township) areas are: (1) value chain influencers at the macro level (e.g. food control laws, customs and taxes, incentives, etc.); (2) value chain supporters at the meso level (e.g. technical, innovation and business advisory services); and (3) value chain players at the micro level (e.g. input suppliers, primary producers, processors, logistics providers, wholesalers and retailers). The external (township interface with the external “world”) areas are: (1) value chain influencers at the macro level (e.g. competition and consumer protection regulations); (2) value chain supporters (e.g. trade facilitation, accreditation and quality management); and (3) “external” (to the local Philippi community - i.e. not necessarily internationally but with regards to the wider Cape Town context) value chain players (e.g. “importers” and “exporters” and “secondary” processors).
A future food system which challenges - and to some extent overturns - the current “big-farmer-and-big-supply-chains-cares-for-all” approach, will probably meet a lot of resistance from vested interests and will therefore need extensive policy and regulatory backing (and political will) in line with a “liberated” food future. The policy (and regulatory) changes needed in future will therefore have to extend beyond window-dressing - and “moving the deckchairs on the Titanic” - but will have to fundamentally address new ways in which communities can co-create their own (regulatory) contexts to put them on a path to “self-care” for their own food security (at least). Perhaps COVID-19 is providing us with enough of a picture of the current failure of the “whole system” to ensure that we will be bold enough to reshape our (food) future!
The first months of “lockdown” under COVID-19 has exposed possible policy and regulatory weaknesses (in South Africa, at least) at both national and regional levels. It seems as if an over-emphasis on policy (and regulatory) control rather than on enabling policy is creating a reactionary response from a broad base of the citizenry which might lead to increased subversive behaviour rather than compliance behaviour. This trend seems to be true throughout history: you can only keep your foot on a dog’s neck for so long…! International as well as national policy decisions (and acts) towards a more closed, nationalised economies in the aftermath of COVID-19 - as a possible state of the larger economic environment - could furthermore (at least initially) have a direct impact on societies’ access to (farming) technology which in turn could effect and drive mindsets towards self-care and self-sufficiency - as it has previously happened within the South African context under the Apartheid regime.
It seems as if good future policy will have to inform both formal (“structural”) leadership in a top-down manner as well as provide for localised (“task”) leadership from a bottoms-up perspective. To be effective, policymaking will have to be much more “dialectic”, i.e. be formed in partnership with societies at grassroots level. Localised policy making should be devolved to the communal level and driven by consensus and implemented through mechanisms such as local (digitised and fraud-free) referendums and decision-making. This could lead to policies that are more context-sensitive and much more easily adhered to and executed.
The need for future policy-making to be more of a dialectic process between central and local structures is further emphasised by the current (ongoing) debate (and struggle) in South Africa as to the level at which Local Economic Development (LED) should be planned and executed. Even if the current (pre-COVID-19) move is away from (small) local municipalities towards bigger areas like district municipalities due to both policy and practice failure at municipality level as well as (perhaps) a traditional (economic) view of “big is better”, we might see a reversal in future as the vulnerability of long (international) value chains gets exposed by COVID-19. This might again strengthen the case for policy support of local, dynamic, self-drive mindsets and initiatives focussing on real local supply and demand without “creating” artificial “external” demand.
Describe how these 6 Themes connect with and influence one another in your food system.
The premise of all our work is that change in complex contexts is brought about by understanding and recognising the systems context within which the change takes place. As such, we are overlaying the 6 “Themes” in the Food System Vision onto our underlying systems model. (See specifically: Tabular Systems view in the visuals of the full vision). From this overlay we can derive interaction amongst the different Themes from their placement on the underlying systems model.
The Model has been developed to facilitate change especially in systems with human participation. It consists of 3 main sub-systems, i.e. (a) the People component (that deals with human behaviour); (b) the Organisation component (that deals with system control); and (c) the Environment and Technology component (that deals with “tooling”). These subsystems find themselves in the bigger societal, economic and resource contexts as shown in the diagram. The subsystems interact with each other on the “edges” and “flow” (direction and nature of influence) can therefore be measured here.
The direction (and nature) of the “flows” on the “edges” of the sub-systems can be either constructive or destructive. In the Agency area we can therefore find “Co-creation” or “Domination” (of people) by the system; in the Benefit area we can find “(Re-)Generation” or “Consumption” (of the resource base) and in the Adoption area we can find either “Enabling” or “Enslaving” (of people) which has an eventual positive or negative effect on the performance of the system.
We felt a need to expand the sub-systems indicated above to provide a more granular (detailed) basis for the design and evaluation of systems. The important “primary” factors (or components) within the subsystems are indicated in the diagram. It is further worthwhile to explore the areas of interaction (“flow”) between “bordering” sub-systems in more detail (as indicated) to understand the make-up - as well as the processes - within these areas. The further extended break-down of these areas also into smaller components (“primary factors”) again assist with design and measurement within these critical spaces.
It is finally important to understand the contribution of the primary factors (inputs) towards secondary factors (outputs) in the complex core of the system where all subsystems are in interaction. If one keeps in mind the various “flow” possibilities, it should be clear that all of the various interactions (at sub-system as well as primary and secondary factor levels) contribute positively or negatively to the final tertiary outcomes of the whole system. These final outcomes (behaviour at the complex core) are indicated as the presence - or absence - of Trust and Participation by the participants in the system’s life. Trust and Participation are seen as essential “readiness” conditions to contribute to the final “thinking” and “doing” change required to change the state of the whole system.
Describe any trade-offs you may have to make within your system to attain your Vision by 2050.
Using our POET model, we can also point to possible oversights in the selection of themes as well as investigate destructive influences (or “flows”) in single or overlapping sub-systems.
The current selection of themes do not, for example, make provision for a lot of discussion on people’s abilities and behaviour - which include elements such as mindsets and value systems - and the influence of these on the development of a future food vision.
People (and whole communities - and countries) who have been reduced to consumers on the wrong side of the “production divide”, have a long and steep road to go to return to productive thinking and doing. Interventions will therefore be needed in the skills development and experience (including coaching and mentoring) space as well as in the area of “enabling networks” to ensure that community members have the ability (and mindsets) to embrace their own food production and value addition. Reliable and easy to use technology can make a valuable contribution to people’s ability to take on their own future.
In the development of the model, we have also seen the importance of appropriate innovation platforms and processes to lead (and enable) the drive towards a preferred future. In our future food vision for Philippi we will therefore have to ensure a focussed structure and processes (in the Food Hub) to facilitate ongoing local innovation and adoption of new technologies, mindsets and organisational structures on an ongoing basis as the community plots its own way - and pace - into the future.
Possible tensions and trade-offs in our systems approach:
1. Reducing man to just an element in the system, instead of enabling people to stand tall and co-create their own local food system - and organisational contexts around it;
2. How to stimulate self-drive while maintaining cooperation and coordination; and
3. How to guide community regulation while maintaining a high degree of individual /entrepreneurial freedom? Are both perhaps achieved through public visualisation and transparent data and record-keeping?
The possibility of “negative” or destructive influences in the Food System which undermine (or work against) positive, constructive “flows” should also be mitigated - if full elimination is impossible. A possible example of this might be the battle to change mindsets: Trapped within the indoctrination of a consumptive mindset - an inability to break free and embark on a self-drive pathway to grow, distribute, process and care for our own food-wellbeing - might initially require stronger-than-normal, vision-establishing, formal leadership. This (slightly) “negative” flow (according to our POET model) should never be permanent and should be replaced with co-creation leadership styles - which incorporates task-level leadership - that contribute to trust and participation as soon as possible.
3 Years | Describe 3 key milestones that you would need to achieve within the next three years for your Vision to be on track?
A number of insights have highlighted the challenges of psychological and social conditions - like ‘constrained’ mindsets and resulting behaviour patterns - in chronically poor contexts (e.g. World Bank eMBeD Unit). Most people in Philippi have been living in a poor and under-resourced environment for their entire lives and this has contributed to people unable to imagine that they can change their world for the better. When using our POET systems model, we start with a focus on People. We designed technology to enable the user to begin from a very “low” base of skills to help them build confidence.
First Milestone: By December 2023, 1000 Philippi households (with a focus on the Browns Farms area) are using African Growers at home to grow their own food leading to “can-do” mindsets and healthy, productive households.
The second drive is to ensure that these “empowered” People collectively co-create a successful Food Hub. We need to develop a deep understanding as to what functions a township Food Hub needs to serve and how to then get it fully operational (full basket of services) and sustainable.
Second Milestone: Sakhulwazi Women’s Hub is technically and financially enabled to operate with a permanent staff complement of at least 5 people and an annual turnover of R2,5m by December 2022.
Agripreneurs at nodal points connect the Hub and participating households. Two environments have the potential to assist us with this: (1) Department of Health uses “WoW Champions” working from clinics to advise households on healthy, plant-based diets and physical activities to advance healthy lifestyles and we will enable them to become Agripreneurs; and (2) we will help schools identify alumni to undergo WoW training and become WoW champions and Agripreneurs.
Third Milestone: Expand the reach of the Hub’s value chain services through 5 additional technically capable and financially profitable nodal points run by “Agripreneurs” by December 2021.
10 Years | What progress will you need to make—by 2030—that would set your Vision up to become a reality by 2050?
Our 10-year vision kicks-off in the Western Cape with Sakhulwazi Food Hub – our place of “light, liberty and learning” - and Philippi Home Grower and Agripreneur networks as inspiration for the rest of the towns and provinces in South Africa. To date we have created one additional Hub in neighbouring Khayelitsha township and are helping the Agripreneurs there to establish 50 Home Growers in the surrounding area. By 2023 we aim to have Hubs and networks in at least 5 of Cape Town’s larger townships.
As all towns in South Africa have a township legacy, we hope to spread our model to all of them by selecting suitable partners and spots to create Food Hubs and then enable suitable community members to start Home Growing and Agripreneur networks. We plan to start in townships and spread to central areas from there. We have experienced strong adoption of empowering (and easy-to-use) technologies as soon as people see it working to address their immediate and real needs. Once we have changed the townships we will expand into towns and urban areas to drive the creation of self-sustainable places with food production in backyards as well as on rooftops and all areas suitable for urban agriculture use. We are aiming to cover at least 5 of the 9 provinces and 20 townships by 2028.
Once the “food fire” has spread through South Africa and affected the underlying mindsets, we will use the success in our country of origin to expand into Africa. We have already started talking to interested parties in neighbouring sub-Saharan countries like Botswana, Namibia and Mozambique and hope to establish African Grower initiatives in at least 2 of these by 2025.
We have recently won entry into the UNDP’s Cultiv@te Programme to duplicate our approach and technology in Uruguay. We hope to expand to other countries in South America where we see a lot of similarities with our own socio-political and natural environments.
If awarded the $200,000 prize what would you do with it?
We want to create a revolving fund for Food Hubs to borrow from and pay back over time so that we can start as many Hubs as possible and get the networks of home growers and Agripreneurs to expand and to produce at a faster pace. The more people use the technology and follow this systems approach - and have success in changing the make-up of “townships”, the faster this new approach to our food life will spread and make a difference to our collective future.
Our first need now is for more vehicles as our vision is growing exponentially and we need to buy 4 more pickup trucks to help transport systems, stock and employees to different areas in South Africa. 2 for our Cape Town branch that caters for the coastal expansion of our vision and 2 for our Gauteng Branch that caters for our inland expansion.
We need to licence an established factory to manufacture and package our African Grower system so that we know they can handle large orders very quickly and we do not have a problem with scaling up our projects
We need to make sure we have warehousing capabilities ready all-over South Africa that will handle large volumes of the African Grower so that we can build up stock levels to make sure we can cover bigger orders.
We are also working from our homes and need to make provision for future employees. We need a sales team that can unlock the corporate market and make sure that the company is financially sustainable and can carry on with its future-shaping work. With the learning of COVID-19, we are now planning for “remote” work and digital “togetherness” in terms of our future, non-consumerist and virtual offices.
As we expand into the corporate market and rooftop gardens, we will need to employ the right technical staff to make sure our systems are safe and working properly.
We will need to accredit our training programmes to be able to give people nationally recognised credits for completion.
If you are chosen as a Top Visionary, The Rockefeller Foundation would like to share your Vision widely with a global audience. What would you like the world to learn from your Vision for 2050?
Over the past couple of yours I have experienced amazing things in the journey to create my Food Vision for Philippi and South Africa. I have met people from all walks of life all dreaming of a day we can see each other as a collective working towards a better sustainable future. I realised that the voices that people listen to are the ones that did not talk with words but with action. Our Rugby World Cup Winning Captain Siya Kolisi firstly showed what was possible by working together as a team towards a common goal no matter the colour of your skin, language you speak or your religion. After that he started inspiring people on a bigger stage.
I started to follow my dream of developing an Africanised Sustainable growing system in 2016. I realised that if I wanted to show that it works, I needed to start where it's needed most and do before I could talk. I still remember when I started working in Philippi I would hear children shouting “Mlungu, Mlungu”. I asked my colleague what they were shouting, and he said they have never seen a white man in the township so "Mlungu" means white man. I moved my manufacturing plant into Philippi so that I could always be there to be able to co-create our future food vision with Sakhulwazi and the amazing team of woman from the community. With them we will change not only Philippi but also the entire country for the better. As our former president Nelson Mandela said: “It always seems impossible until it's done.”
Please share a visual that communicates the structure and operation of your food system in 2050. Describe the visual.
Single diagram to depict the essence of: "From Despair to Hope: A socio-economically transformed "township" through a re-designed food system within a holistic approach"
Overview of the Food System Vision - From Despair to Hope: A socio-economically transformed "township" through a re-designed food system within a holistic approach
Our Food Vision consists of Food Hubs to support networks of Agripreneurs and Home Growers. The Hubs have 4 roles: Home Grower Support, Institutional Strengthening, Micro Enterprise Support, and Commercial Enablement.
These roles are executed by networks of “Agripreneurs“ who provide technical and business services. A ‘Bridge’ will thus be built from home farmers and co-operatives to Small Scale and Export farmers. Agricultural, Logistical and ICTs are used for “enablement”.