Aerial view of agriculture fields, in Sao Desiderio, western Bahia state, Brazil, taken on September 29, 2023

Gauteng's MEC for Social Development, Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment Mbali Hlophe said the newly launched farmyards initiative will promote healthy diets in townships, hostels and informal settlements.

The beneficiaries of farmyards initiative, which mainly targets youth and women, will get repurposed containers that are converted into local stores where farmers can sell their produce to the community, encouraging healthy eating habits.

There are four farmyards in Gauteng's townships, equipped with the necessary tools and infrastructure, as part of the government's effort to boost the township economy.

"This is about bringing back good health and nutrition to our townships. When you look at the stats at our disposal, they show that many people especially children are not eating nutritious meals required for their growth, on a daily basis," Hlophe said, SA News reported.

With the help of farmyards getting close to people, the habit of healthy eating will be encouraged, as per Gauteng's MEC.

She added, "We encourage beneficiaries of farmyards to ensure that they sell the kind of food that is required in a home meal, to provide nutrient rich crops like spinach, moringa, and additionally provide proteins through the live or frozen chickens they sell."

Hlophe noted that this initiative is a response to the province's relentless fight to ensure food security as it is one of the main priorities of the administration.

"Food security is one of our elevated priorities and boasts a basket of services available to ensure the province is food secure, and with regards to farmyards, we have identified subsistence farmers as enablers to help the province become food secure in a sustainable manner," the MEC explained.

The food security basket includes various programs to ensure the poor and vulnerable have access to nutritious and safe food. These programs include food distribution through food banks, food parcels, and Community Nutrition and Development Centers (CNDCs), as well as support from non-profit organizations (NPOs).

This approach follows the guidelines of the National Policy on Food Nutrition Security and the Household Food and Nutrition Security Strategy, which were approved by the Cabinet in 2013.

Hlophe further shared that this initiative is slowly changing the common view in the townships that agriculture is unappealing, dirty, and looked down upon.