Recent global conflicts such as the Ukraine-Russia War continue to send shockwaves throughout the world. Their impact has laid bare the critical need for developing African markets such as South Africa to strengthen food production capabilities and agricultural supply chains. Prioritising the needs of millions of children at risk of starvation and malnutrition is paramount as a response to any global crisis.
Disruptions in the supply of essential goods, materials and services has resulted in increased food prices, kicking South Africans while they’re down and grappling with historical food insecurity and deeply entrenched inequality.
In response to this threat to food security, Afrika Tikkun – a leading advocate for sustainable youth development in disadvantaged communities – highlights agricultural entrepreneurship as a vital part of the solution.
According to the Global Report on Food Crises, 139 million people experienced acute food insecurity in 2021, up about 40 million from the previous year, as a result of armed conflict and other security risks. Economic shocks (which plunged 30 million people into a crisis) and weather extremes (an extra 23 million) were other significant causes of food insecurity.
“Nations that are vulnerable to global market volatility must protect their poorest from the threat of food becoming scarce or completely unaffordable,” says Afrika Tikkun group CEO, Marc Lubner.
“Agripreneurship offers a viable pathway to enhance food security, promote self-sufficiency and mitigate the risks associated with supply chain disruptions. Empowering individuals and communities to cultivate their own food and establish agribusinesses can reduce SA’s reliance on external sources and build a robust agricultural sector capable of meeting domestic demand,” he adds.
Benefits of agricultural entrepreneurship extend beyond food security
By investing in agriculture and supporting aspiring entrepreneurs in the sector, South Africa can unlock its potential as an agricultural powerhouse, contributing to the overall socio-economic development of the nation. The agricultural sector can foster economic growth, create employment opportunities and promote sustainable development.
“As an emerging African market with proven competitive advantage in the local and export market, SA has the resources to leverage agripreneurship to enhance food self-sufficiency. Through collaboration between industry players and community builders, these resources should be channelled toward inclusive and innovative solutions that give underprivileged youth the skills and platforms to bring farming into the future,” says Lubner.
Programmes such as Afrika Tikkun’s youth agricultural training initiative demonstrate that when the government, financial institutions and development organisations collaborate to provide aspiring agricultural entrepreneurs with access to land, capital, modern farming technologies and relevant training, lives can change – and the road to food security through sustainable agribusinesses begins.
“It is critical that farming, agriculture, nutrition and environmental sustainability are introduced at a young age – as early as at an ECD [early childhood development] level, and continue to be taught, reinforced and developed throughout a child’s schooling and thereafter in order to realise the full potentials of agripreneurship in SA,” says Lubner.
Afrika Tikkun incorporates agricultural activity at all levels of education: from its Garden-to-Kindergarten programme for preschoolers at an ECD level, to tertiary education programmes. Its child development programme teaches young learners the wonders of farming and gardening while laying the foundation for the future of growth through practical sustainable farming.
In a small farm plot outside Diepsloot, Johannesburg, dozens of disadvantaged young people between the ages of 20 and 30 have spent the last year gaining the skills to run their own farm-to-table style agribusiness by turning 300 square metres into a sustainable micro business that can feed their family and their future.
The Micro Farm Regenerative Agriculture initiative forms part of Afrika Tikkun’s award-winning Cradle to Career development model that tackles the social ills that hold back poor communities holistically with the goal of fostering independence and life-long learning.
“We envision a future where embracing technological advancements such as precision farming, hydroponics and vertical farming can significantly increase productivity and resource efficiency in agriculture. Encouraging innovation and technology adoption in the sector will create a more inclusive and sustainable local food market,” says Lubner.
One of the key ways South Africa can achieve this is by building future farmers and agripreneurs through basic, as well as agritech vocational training, Lubner concludes. “By harnessing the potential of the agricultural sector and supporting aspiring entrepreneurs, we can build a more resilient, self-sufficient and prosperous nation.”