The senior Reserve Force officer tasked with implementation of Project Koba-Tlala investigated various aspects of food security reports there is a way to make agriculture work in the Reserves.
The summer edition of The Reserve Force Volunteer explains fighting hunger through home farming can become reality.
“Sub-Saharan Africa holds great opportunity for sustainable commercial and subsistence agriculture which can be leveraged through commercial agri- business. Much planning has been done and much has been said about the possibilities agricultural opportunities hold for Reserves.
“To farm is expensive, very expensive. Often an unaffordable dream! How can Reserves become involved in agriculture on a small scale? Are isolated vegetable gardens in unit lines economically or otherwise sustainable?” he asks and responds by way of an example.
“A pilot project initiated by Regiment President Steyn (RPS), with support from 1 Special Service Battalion (1SSB) and Regiment Bloemspruit as partners of Project Koba-Tlala laid the foundation for a humble beginning. This project has built up good momentum and focuses on a hydroponic home gardening concept within unit lines.
“A second model, more community-based model to make communities near and around military bases part of the supply chain of the SANDF, was also investigated.
“To secure further embeddedness in communities and as part of practical assignments, trained community facilitation learners from Regiment Oranjerivier (ROR), Regiment Westelike Provinsie (RWP) and Cape Town Rifles (CTR) at Fort iKapa Military Base started to support a deserving community project in Philippi on the Cape Flats.
“This home gardening hydroponic project is in the community and supported by Reserve units and members. The so-called partnership champion, Sakhulwazi, is a women-driven member co-operative with a further 40 strong household community support structure. Reserve members trained in using the practical African Grower hydroponic system also produce to sell consistently to clients.
“Project Koba-Tlala committed to co-operate with the Western Cape Department of Agriculture in work it is doing in the needy, poverty-stricken areas of Nyanga and Philippi.”
Progress to date has seen Fort iKapa Reserve Force soldiers “involved in a supportive role on the Cape Flats” and the Sakhulwazi co-operative in Philippi is giving trained community liaison and facilitation members the opportunity to gain more experience in working with poverty-stricken communities”.
A further indication of the momentum the project is gaining is that produce, in the form of fresh vegetables, will find its way to SA Army bases and facilities in Western Cape.
Additional agriculture related orientation training has been approved and hopes are high the Koba-Tlala ethos “fighting hunger” will spread to Reserve Force units and bases nationally.
This article is based on the story ‘Fighting Hunger Through Home Farming’ by Lieutenant Colonel Philip Coetzer, Directorate SA Army Reserves. It first appeared in the Winter 2019 edition of The Reserve Force Volunteer and is reprinted with permission.