A sister project to Amanzi for Food is based in KZN and is focussed on Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA).  This project is also funded by the Water Research Commission and is led by Mahlathini Organics in Pietermaritzburg. Four CSA team members (Sylvester Selala, Mazwi Dlamini, Temakholo Mathebula and Nozipho Zwane), accompanied by a young guest from Belgium (Matheiu Berger) visited the Eastern Cape in February to meet with the Amanzi for Food team and the farmers and other members of the Imvotho Bubomi Learning Network. The idea was to see what synergies could be developed between the two projects and how the CSA project could provide further support to the farmers already working with Amanzi for Food. As the CSA project focusses very much on farmer experimentation, and many of the IBLN members are keen innovators, it seemed like a very good fit. Most of the practices being promoted within the Amanzi for Food project are also entirely appropriate for CSA, making the connection between the two even stronger.

The visit comprised an initial meeting between representatives of the 2 project teams, followed by 2 days of workshops and visits with members of the IBLN.

The first workshop on Valentine’s day, was held at Chief Mavuso’s Hall near Alice. It involved discussions on the difference between ‘weather’ (short-term events) and ‘climate’ (longer-term patterns and trends in the weather).  The farmers were encouraged to say what changes they had seen in the local weather patterns over the years, and illustrated these through mapping rainfall and temperature changes through the year.  They were then guided in the development of ‘reality maps’  identifying the possible impacts of climate change on their farming and on their communities.

On the following day a visit was made to a Youth Development Co-operative initiative near Mazotsheni village, northeast of Alice. Two members of the co-operative; Mrs Mandisa Mama and Mr Mncedi Madleni hosted the visit. The co-operative is experiencing problems with weeds and soil erosion when rain runs off the surrounding hills. There was a discussion on how to address these problems, in particular the soil erosion.

A final meeting  was held in the TRC Hall in Alice where the idea of a ‘decision support system’ to help farmers decide on appropriate CSA practices was discussed.  A document highlighting CSA practices would be made available to the farmers so that they could start to think about which practices they would be keen to try.

The connection between Amanzi for Food and the CSA project seems to be firmly established, and promises well for an exciting and productive future.