Decisions on food security

Irene and Siegi Juhnke, Oranjezicht

Your story “Rezoning appeal snubbed” (Bulletin, July 6) refers.

Several studies have been conducted on the resource potential of the Cape Flats. These studies contain abundant information to make informed decisions, and their findings should form part of the provincial Department of Agriculture’s investigation, during the next six months, into the future of the Philippi Horticultural Area (PHA).

If it is true, as these studies suggest, that:

* the remaining agricultural land of the PHA presently provides about 60% (150 000 tons annually) of Cape Town’s vegetable supply (this could increase to 80% if all suitable remaining agricultural land was utilised optimally);

* the Cape Flats aquifer could augment Cape Town’s water supply by 30% during dry spells; and

* the remaining PHA land (about 3 000 hectare, a third of its original size), forms part of the major Cape Flats aquifer recharge zone, then there should be no further attempts to impede the potential of these two facilities to provide for all Capetonians.

One could forego the PHA food production capacity with urban development and obtain vegetable produce from areas of Malmesbury, Ceres, George or even further afield. At what cost, however, considering increased transport costs and green house gas emission, as well as Cape Town’s potential reduction in carbon capture. These decisions will have to be made with the long term vision in mind as they will effect all Capetonians living now and all of its future generations.

If the suspicion is also true that attempts are at work to irregularly change the land use of the PHA from agriculture to urban development, then we may have that dreaded phenomenon of “state capture” right on our doorstep. If this is true, we have to guard against it and prevent it from happening with all civic mechanisms at our disposal, for example to participate in the Department of Agriculture’s investigation by attending public hearings and providing inputs of how such land use change will impact not only the neighbouring communities but Cape Town’s food security and water supply in general.

The PHA Food and Farming Campaign Center in Philippi (072 724 3465) should be contacted for dates and venues of public hearings and similar platforms of public participation.