In South Africa, millions of poor people live in rural areas where they are struggling to make their daily living. Although land is the most readily available resource, community members have not benefited significantly from it.
This issue is fundamentally due to lack of skills, common organisation and access to supportive structures and farming resources, which makes it imperative that alternative agricultural interventions must be explored.
Humana People to People established the first two Farmers' Clubs projects Mbashe local municipality in the Amathole District of the Eastern Cape as a direct response to address the escalating issues of poverty, food scarcity and unemployment among rural communities in the country.
During 2013, the program has managed to give 400 farmers access to an organised club life that includes training sessions, model farming, field visits, low cost solutions, technical assistance, exchange of collectively gained experiences, personal assistance and many more support activities.
The renewed sense of self-sustenance has boosted the communities' self-esteem and helped establish positive people who are now able to access healthy food through their own hard work.
In Farmers Clubs' quest to transform a healthy diet for families, the farmers have been able through organic farming to harvest nutritious food such as tomatoes, onions, carrots, green pepper, beetroot, cabbages, beans, spinach and broccoli among others. Families and communities where farmers reside are now able to secure regular, fresh and healthy food supplies produced from their own backyards. As one of the farmers said: "After joining the Farmers' Clubs my family eats much more healthy food."
In terms of creating healthy lifestyles, the farmers also play a role in educating their families about HIV & AIDS and TB, other opportunistic illnesses, social life skills, income generating programs, self-help projects as well as pass on loans.
The Chiefs and Headmen in the communities have also taken a stand to become part of the program by planning for the events and the general developments of the area. This has encouraged the spirit of program ownership to the farmers and the local leaders.
It is Humana People to People's vision to continue working closely with stakeholders in agriculture, rural development, health and social development to scale up the Farmers' Clubs initiative over the next few years to reach 50,000 subsistence and small-scale farmers in South Africa.
By working together hand in hand, sharing resources and trying new ideas it becomes possible to empower many more small scale farmers and establish an environment that encourages rural communities to play an active role in positively changing their lives.