PEDI Agriculture Academy taking shape

A letter from the CEO

We are proud to announce that we have embarked on an exciting new project that will see the opening of the PEDI Urban Agriculture Academy in a couple of months time.

On land adjacent to the Philippi Fresh Produce Market, our emerging farmer training academy, the PEDI Academy, will develop skills for a new generation that is hungry to work the land in an area which has been described as having one of the poorest levels of food security in our city.

The PEDI Academy is a departure from PEDI’s previous role in local development. Now investing directly into a project, PEDI has attracted a range of other partners whose involvement is turning the plan into one of the most exciting initiatives the area has seen. Recent agreement by the City of Cape Town to co-contribute to the investment will greatly help to operationalise the academy.

Already the skeleton of the PEDI Academy is rising – a multi-span farming tunnel and a seedling tunnel, with four 10 000-litre storage tanks for irrigation, have been donated by the Dhladhla Foundation. Inside the 2500 square metres of tunnel, workers have been constructing growing beds that are now being planted as part of the Academy’s first training programme.

The programme for Academy trainees is currently being drawn up in consultation with Maryna Booysen, a highly experienced organic agriculture trainer who is drawing up a pilot training phase. We have identified initial beneficiaries for leadership training and successful candidates Thulani Mangwengwe and Mlulami Maseti are already working on site.

Future candidate selection will be facilitated by our partner, Business Accelerator, led by Egbert Wessels. This NGO based at Philippi Village, has long experience in entrepreneurial skills development. This part of the programme will see candidates receive business and entrepreneurship training and leadership skills from Business Accelerator, in addition to the hands-on farmer training.

Discussions have also been held with staff from the Department of Agriculture’s Elsenberg training facility and from the School of Agriculture at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, and PEDI is hopeful that this interaction with experts in the field will allow us to ultimately achieve full NQF accreditation of the training programme. There are also hopes that the model might be replicated in other training locations.

We are confident that the appointment of new PEDI dIrector Babalwa Jama (SEE BELOW), who has significant experience in youth development work, will facilitate our outreach to the community and help us find candidates for the programme who can succeed and become our ambassadors.

PEDI believes this initiative will do many things for Philippi. By giving young people the opportunity to become farmers, we are making a difference to this community. We are giving our candidates skills that will allow them to seek dignified work. We are training people who will be trained to train others. We will be reaching community gardeners, and those running school or ECD gardens. The project will have a significant multiplier effect.

We are excited to be working with the remarkable people who have come forward to help us make this happen. Their support has been heart-warming.

We hope that many more funders will see the value of what we are doing and will enable us to make this project grow to reach the many, many people of the area who can benefit. We are hoping to demonstrate that it can be replicated to bring hope to other areas too.

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