Kwanalu, partners deliver R5 million food aid to KZN rural towns, communities hardest hit by the unrest
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DURBAN - KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union (Kwanalu) has partnered with companies and organisations to distribute food donations to the value of R5 million to feed over 500 000 people in rural towns and communities in KZN.
Sandy la Marque, chief executive of Kwanalu, said during the unrest across the province, Kwanalu conducted a real-time survey among its members to assess the extent of the damage to farms, rural towns, and their surrounding communities.
The survey found that 31 rural towns suffered massive destruction, while a further 10 were left without food for their surrounding rural communities.
In response to the survey results, la Marque said Kwanalu led a series of critical national interventions, together with Agri SA, to ensure that the impact on the province’s agricultural value chain, future food security and rural stability could be minimised as quickly as possible.
Kwanalu Project manager Dr Kathy Hurly said it soon emerged that out of the 31 rural towns hit by the unrest, there were 10 vulnerable towns needing critical assistance immediately.
She said, together with the Agri SA Disaster Relief Foundation, Kwanalu put plans in place to provide humanitarian aid to the most vulnerable rural communities in the province.
“The resilience of the farming community and the spirit of philanthropy of our many partners turned this disaster into an opportunity for assisting vulnerable communities, resulting in a total of donations to the value of R5 million,” said Hurly.
Kwanalu, together with Agri SA, combined resources with WeareSouthAfricans and their partners, ReMAX SA, One Logix, Toyota Knights, various Round Tables and Hino Pietermaritzburg.
The food aid donations valued f R5 million include over five tons of food from Gauteng, nearly two tons of mielie meal donated by SenWes, four tons of food donated by Karino Farms Mpumalanga, through OrangeHearts (Citrus Growers Association), potatoes and onions from OneFarmShare (Hello Choice) and two tons of sugar from UCL Pty Ltd, amounting to a total of R5 million worth of food aid.
The union said the initiative, which is a response to the devastation caused by the recent unrest in the province, would also ensure food security for a further 300 000 people in the upcoming weeks.
La Marque said the union has undertaken to restore value chains, address rural security and restore rural stability on behalf of its members and the rural communities surrounding its member businesses.
“Added to this, our leaders in these towns are advancing ideas on strengthening civil society to achieve stability and to stop the decay of these critical towns across the province,” she said.
Hurly said while rebuilding the decimated rural towns is not going to be easy, it provides an opportunity to review how rural towns operate and to identify how safety, security and stability can be strengthened.
“The unrest of July 2021 has shown that the functioning of rural towns is critical to the survival of thousands of people in the deep rural areas of KZN,” she said.
Hurly further explained that the affected towns are all dependent on external parties to provide their supplies, including food, cash, and services.
“This tragedy must be used to strengthen the independence of rural towns, that the businesses of the townships and towns be better integrated ensuring solidarity into the future and that where business opportunities exist that these be investigated and funded to provide the much-needed jobs in rural areas,” she said.
Furthermore, Kwanalu has developed a business plan aimed at supporting women and youth in rural businesses and entrepreneurship.
Hurley said when training is combined with a business stimulus and business incubation, it could be used as a vehicle to reconstruct the 31 rural towns.
“Because it is aimed at the whole agriculture value chain, it can grow new farmers but more importantly provide a mechanism to link these farmers into local and new markets,” she said.