Food security & sustainability in SA gets big boost

Good news stories don’t come along every day. And with two of South Africa’s biggest problems being food security and sustainability, the work that Siyazisiza Trust is doing in this area inspired Tourvest to become involved.

PHOTO ABOVE: Justin Bend, Co-CEO of the Siyazizisa Trust

With Tourvest’s mission being to create sustainable income and ensure food security within some of the poorest rural communities in SA, in 1999 they joined forces with Siyazisiza Trust’s former subsidiary, Khumbulani Craft. With Tourvest’s marketing and retail reach this relationship grew to where it is today, working in the field of food security and sustainable livelihoods.

Siyazisiza Trust currently supports 65 smallholder farmers across Bushbuckridge and Mbombela under their Agri-Enterprise Development Programme and 18 rural youth under their Young Farmers Development Programme.

According to Justin Bend, Co-CEO OF Siyazisiza Trust, “With climate change issues now a reality we’re looking at longer term projects and growing of alternate crops to cope with severe weather issues. For example indigenous crops such as amaranth, also known as morog, are highly nutritious and we’re even producing popcorn from the grain which we’re now distributing through health shops nationwide.”

Judi Nwokedi, Chief Operating Officer of Tourvest

Another project currently being piloted outside the Numbi Gate of Kruger National Park is the planting of over a hundred drought tolerant, indigenous fruit trees, including lesser known fruits such as mangosteen, kei apple and num-nums. The long term aim being to harvest, dry and add these, together with honey from Siyazisiza’s bee-keeping enterprises to their Community Farmer Networks range of cereals and snack-bars.

These young farmers once trained then return to their communities to pass on their skills, helping to set up community food gardens and sourcing water. These initiatives are already showing positive results with major retailers such as Spar selling this produce in their White River and Hazyview branches.

Judi Nwokedi, Chief Group Sustainability Officer of Tourvest comments, “We’ve always been aware of the importance of these projects as longer term goals with food sustainability at the forefront. Although such programmes take time to come to full fruition they are positive steps in the right direction. Joining hands with organisations such as the Siyazizisa Trust means we’re helping to make a positive difference in vital areas.”


The unemployment rate stands at 52%, with the youth unemployment rate being notably higher at 65%. A significant 51% of the population live under the lower-bound poverty line, earning less than R810 per month. A majority, 66%, of households rely on social grants for sustenance.40% of the households are identified as agricultural. Less than 7% have access to flush toilets connected to a main sewage system. Fewer than 12% of homes benefit from piped water directly within the dwelling. A majority engage in some form of crop farming, either for personal consumption or as a source of income. The prevalent crops grown encompass maize, peanuts, pumpkin leaves, pumpkins, jugo beans, mango, cowpeas, and spinach. Notably, spinach and maize are primarily cultivated for income generation. Income from crop sales is relatively minimal, contributing less than 7% to overall household earnings on average. Livestock farming is not as widespread. Among those who engage in it, cattle and goats are predominant. A recent study highlighted that 18% of homesteads possess livestock. The majority of household income is derived from off-farm sources, such as remittances and grants, accounting for between 38% and 47% of the total income.