JAM SA's food security programme is realised through Agricultural Development.
By the end of 2015, JAM SA had equipped more than 900 micro-farmers with the knowledge, tools and practical experience to manage and run their own backyard and community gardens. In addition, every JAM-supported ECD centre is encouraged to grow their own food garden to further supplement the children’s nutritional needs and provide an ‘outdoor physical classroom’ to help them learn.
In South Africa, people with disabilities are often marginalised within communities and made to believe that they cannot be productive and contributing members of society. This is particularly true in the agriculture sector as the physical nature of food gardening often proves a major barrier to people with disabilities participating in such projects, compounded by the attitudes of able-bodied people. JAM SA seeks to embed the mainstreaming of disability within the Orange Farm community. This will be realised through empowering people with disabilities with the necessary infrastructure and training required to increase their food security and that of their families. Realisation of these ends will change the community’s attitudes towards people with disabilities, while at the same time build their self-esteem and worth by proving that they are able to play a constructive role in society by improving their own well-being through food production. The group’s dream is to produce vegetables for sale and consumption, together with seedlings for sale to other community food gardeners.
Food stability refers to the ability to obtain food over time. Micro-farmers are taught that vegetables are seasonal. They are encouraged to plant vegetables that grow all year round (including beetroot, cabbage, kale, carrots, cauliflower, onions and spinach) and then plant some vegetables that pertain to the particular time of year. We expect the beneficiaries to take ownership of their success and continue to feed their families from the earth. Although still in the planning phases, JAM SA has pinpointed land in Orange Farm on which to build a community resource centre. This will have training facilities and resources for micro-farmers, as well as a model ECD centre and resources like toy libraries for the ECD centres that JAM SA supports in the area.
Food availability relates to the supply of food through production, distribution, and exchange. By encouraging micro-farmers to establish their own backyard gardens, JAM SA is helping families, who may not have a regular income, to rely on their own efforts to feed themselves. JAM SA’s Agricultural Supervisor and Field Monitors ensure that these micro-farmers are equipped with all the theoretical knowledge of soil management, crop selection and harvesting to be able to look after their gardens themselves. Similarly, we encourage ECD centre owners to grow vegetables to boost the nutrition of the lunchtime meal for the children.
Beneficiaries are trained in various methods of processing their produce, including drying, pickling and stewing. JAM SA has noticed a worrying trend amongst the beneficiary farmers as soon as they reach the Livelihood phase of agricultural development. During the first Survival phase, farmers and their families will eat from the garden daily. However, as soon as farmers grow enough to produce a surplus, which can then be sold to other community members, they will use the income to buy food, rather than use the produce in their backyards. As a result, the nutrients and vitamins they had been getting through the vegetables is replaced by processed foods and takeaways as they know have the ‘luxury’ of a regular income. JAM SA’s Field Monitors now include nutritional education in their training and check-up visits.