CSI

Chairman’s Fund puts food on the table

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The Chairman’s Fund, one of the dedicated instruments used by Anglo American to channel its corporate social investment, has formed a partnership with the non-governmental organisation Soil for Life to increase food security in the Western Cape.

The initiative is making a substantial and significant difference in the lives of people living in the province by encouraging them to grow their own vegetables in an environmentally sustainable way. Based in the Western Cape, Soil for Life encourages people to create green growing spaces in unfriendly and often dangerous areas.

The organisation strives to improve household food security, growing a sense of goodwill and ownership in the community and protect the environment. So far 1 598 people have been trained to start their own food gardens, with almost 10,000 people benefitting directly. 60% of home gardeners are still tending their food gardens.

Over 1162 people have benefitted from the life-skills training programme which is also run by the organisation. “With the majority of the Western Cape’s households being food insecure, Soil for Life’s home food gardening programme and skills development workshops make a sizable contribution to poverty alleviation and ensures that people have access to food,” says Pat Featherstone, operations director of Soil for Life.

The organisation educates members of the community on how to manage low-cost production methods which yield large amounts of vegetables, fruit and herbs from small spaces using very little water. These methods include gardening without the use of harmful chemicals to produce small-scale organic food and herbs. People also learn how to improve soil and recycle waste as well as nursery skills and plant propagation. Soil for Life also teaches people about nutrition, food processing and preserving.

Their entrepreneurial skills are further improved by teaching them how to set up local markets and run a small business. The Soil for Life train-the-trainer programme provides committed and promising home gardeners with training to teach and support others within the community. Funding from the Chairman’s Fund has enabled Soil for Life to further develop and strengthen its programmes,” explains Featherstone.

The Chairman’s Fund was named the top corporate social investment grant-maker in South Africa for eight consecutive years. Assistance from the fund has, since its establishment in the 1950s, ranged from small grassroots initiatives to major capital building projects and large-scale service delivery programmes in partnership with provincial and national authorities. “Our support of Soil for Life is aligned with our mission to partner with stakeholders to help mitigate the country’s developmental challenges and use our resources to support and add value to practical interventions that benefit the people of this country,” concludes Norman Mbazima, chairperson of the Chairman’s Fund.

Pranill Ramchander 

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