25 November 2022 – EduPlant, one of Food & Trees for Africa’s (FTFA) most impactful food security programmes, implemented in partnership with Tiger Brands, has won the Trialogue’s 2022 Strategic CSI Award. The award recognises projects that exemplify best practice within the South African development landscape and specifically encourages interventions and partners to think about strategic business integration as the pinnacle of impact and sustainability.
The recognition of this 5-year long partnership comes shortly after COP27 where improving food systems and food security globally was established as a key outcome in the COP “cover decision”. During a time where approximately 14.2 million people are classified as experiencing food insecurity in South Africa, and one quarter of school-aged children are malnourished, the EduPlant Programme is pioneering school-linked food gardening clusters in under-resourced communities and townships.
The programme was the first of its kind in South Africa, and has been running successfully since 1994. Every two years, approximately 300 schools across all nine provinces are selected to benefit from mentorship focused around agroecology and bio-intensive agriculture. The programme incorporates school-based food production, environmental education, and community development. EduPlant is recognised by the South African Council of Educators (SACE) as part of its formal curriculum. This means that the benefits may be harvested by the younger generation of learners in the country.
Thirty school-based food security clusters were established just one year into this cycle. Each cluster receives facilitated workshops, tools, resources, planting materials, and expert support. This enables each school to develop or expand a food garden to grow fresh vegetables and herbs for their feeding scheme as well as resources and knowledge back into their homes and communities. The gardens act as practical learning spaces for curriculum integration, but also include the wider community who benefit from the mentorship including parents, educators, department officials and local community members.
Most importantly, EduPlant brings nutritious food to young children to supplement meals provided by the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP). For many learners, the only meal they receive for the day is the one provided at school, which is essential for ensuring that they grow, develop and learn to their maximum potential.
“Inequities are inherent in the current system so under-served communities need multi-pronged approaches to reduce the effects of food insecurity aggravated by other factors such as poverty and climate change. The FTFA – Tiger Brands long term CSI strategy is one of social development and education which creates a platform upon which ongoing food security can be developed for entire communities,” says Chris Wild, Executive Director of Food & Trees for Africa.
The Tiger Brands partnership with EduPlant exemplifies and implements sustainable practices, environmental ethics, and whole systems thinking. It creates strong social and food security community networks. External monitoring and evaluation found that 60% of learners and community members involved in the programme replicate the activities at household level. This means that learners take control of their food sovereignty and encourage their parents to start homestead vegetable gardens.
“Improving food security at a household level and maintaining South Africa’s status as a food secure country by building sustainable livelihoods is a strategic intent of Tiger Brands. Working collaboratively with Food and Trees for Africa means we are able to pool our expertise and resources to bring comprehensive solutions to society’s challenges and effective impact,” says Preeya Naidu, Socio-Economic Development Manager, Tiger Brands.
In presenting the award, Trialogue noted that EduPlant comprehensively addressed food security needs in marginalised communities through skills development, and that the outcome of the programme is measurable and impactful.