Sustainable Agriculture is Growing

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Professor Tarak Kate from India arrived in the Lynedoch Village last week for his annual two month visit during which he teaches the sustainable agriculture modules, participates in the research programme and visits organic farms around the country (which is his greatest love). On his first day here he immediately visited Eric Swarts’ farm and was thrilled to see the six oxen pulling the plough. This marked for him the culmination of a dream that started when Eric visited Tarak in India for a month and learnt from the Indian farmers how to drive a team of oxen. On 27 July Tarak started teaching the Biodiversity and Sustainable Agriculture module which is a highlight of the masters programme each year. Last month the Programme Coordinator for the Sustainable Agriculture Programme, Candice Kelly, presented a paper at the annual conference of the International Association for Sustainable Development Research in Delft, Holland. Her paper brought together the themes she explored in her masters thesis, namely a critique of ‘green revolution’ technologies and how these are being applied in Africa today with mega-funding from the large American foundations. At the same time, the SI is making great progress facilitating the negotiations between the Stellenbosch Small Farmers Trust, Stellenbosch Municipality, Department of Rural Development and Land Reform and the Western Cape Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to secure grant funding for the land reform project located near Lynedoch and which the SI has helped to develop over the past 10 years. To add to this, Stellenbosch University has allocated R500 000 to support research on food security in Stellenbosch and to reinforce land reform – this is part of the University’s multi-million rand strategic research focus on food security. Also, as part of the SI’s Science and Society programme for Stellenbosch, a workshop of food security was organised for a wide range of stakeholders in government, civil society and the private sector. This will gradually lead to the strengthening of the local Stellenbosch food economy which also happens to be the research focus of a masters thesis that Jess Schulschenk is completing. So, in short, lots is happening at the SI in the sustainable agriculture field at the research, teaching and applied project levels. Watch this space.