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June 2012
Contents / home
Hornbills get taste of the wild
International Year of the Rhino
DIY: Build a bat box
Holiday courses
Biodiversity Youth Symposium
Community produce animal food
Debunking myths around owls
Air Force knee deep in mud!
NZG display draws crowds
Solving wildebeest dilemma
Tick-borne disease mystery
Inspiring aspirant vets
ZooClub in scientific mode
Science going places
Talkin' about takins
Conservation Grapevine

NZG supports community to produce food for its animals

The National Zoological Gardens of South Africa's animal collection consists of captive as well as managed free-range animals.

The captive animals are fed scientifically formulated diets and the free-ranging animals have their food supplemented when necessary. The food that is purchased includes meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, grains, lucerne and teff.

A lemur receives a plate of food. The food is specially prepared to tempt even the most discerning of palates.   The National Zoo's animals are fed scientifically formulated diets.

The NZG aims to use its annual food budget to support community farmers in a peri-urban community in the Tshwane metropolitan area to produce a proportion of the food. The overall aim is to establish a community project which will supply the NZG with animal feed (vegetables, fruits, and possibly lucerne) grown on nutrients (compost) supplied by the NZG. The project will involve several partners to ensure its success.

Economic and social upliftment

Two of the most important factors hindering the achievement of higher economic growth in South Africa are poverty and the unsustainable use of natural resources. The NZG's food provision project is aimed at contributing to poverty alleviation by supporting community-based agricultural enterprises which support job creation through improving the ability of the identified farms to retrain current staff and employ more.

The project aims to provide a source of livelihood for the selected community and thereby contribute to food security, social upliftment, poverty alleviation and capacity development. It will also contribute to the development of sustainable agriculture in the area. Also envisaged are spin-off effects on the community due to increased economic activity in the area.

The NZG's Dr Abeda Dawood (left) and Managing Director Dr Clifford Nxomani (centre) visit Mr Malepa (right) from Winterveldt, one of the farmers targeted for participation in the project. They are accompanied by an agricultural extension officer (second from left).   The food that is purchased for the National Zoo's animals includes vegetables and fruits.

Win-win situation

The advantage of this approach is that the NZG may be able to source good quality organic animal feed with the beneficiaries gaining access to land, technology and a reliable, guaranteed market that would otherwise not have been available to them. This feeds into broader Local Economic Development initiatives in the greater Tshwane metropolitan area.

As the contract farming approach is also the favoured approach of the South African Land Redistribution Programme, the project could undoubtedly fit into the broader development aims of the Land Redistribution Programme. It could moreover provide a case study for understanding the impacts and spin-off effects of the contract farming approach for the relevant community and other stakeholders.

The initiative would also provide an opportunity to learn from the contract farming experience (in terms of relationship dynamics and equity and efficiency trends) in order to suggest ways of making the system more beneficial for all the stakeholders involved. From the policy perspective the proposed project could also contribute to recommendations for improved farming techniques for small-scale farming in the City of Tshwane.

Guaranteed market

As the project coordinator, the National Zoo provides a guaranteed market for the produce, as well as expertise in horticulture and nutrition. The facility also provides good quality compost to the farmers.

Collaborative effort

Project collaborators include the Tshwane Metro through the Tshwane Department of Agriculture and Resource Management, Gauteng Department of Agriculture & Rural Development, Gauteng Department of Finance, National Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Council (ARC), University of Pretoria and Tshwane University of Technology.

The role of the Department of Agriculture is to provide extension officers to work with the identified community, and possible funding, while the ARC will provide the expertise for identifying which crops would be suitable for the area identified and to develop the planting programme. The ARC will assist with skills development of community members for the project. They could also assist with implementing quality control measures for the produce. The Gauteng Department of Finance is assisting with the Supply Chain Management process.

The role of the University of Pretoria and Tshwane University of Technology is to research various aspects of the project to ensure that it is science-based, feasible, and that the outputs and outcomes are measurable. They will have postgraduate students study the production of good quality / sufficient quantity of compost at the NZG. They will also study the economic feasibility of the project and the impact of the contract farming project on the community, including poverty alleviation within the community.

By involving postgraduate students for degree purposes, the National Zoo is furthermore contributing to skills development in the country.

By Abeda Dawood, Manager: Collections and Conservation Department, NZG

Zoo and Aquarium Visitor