This Provincial Indigenous Food Fair represents another important milestone in an innovative project aimed at the promotion and commercialisation of South Africa's indigenous skills, which is currently underway by the CSIR Technology for Development.
The project aims at having a major impact on the alleviation of poverty in rural areas through enhancing the skills of the rural women in food preparation of indigenous foods to stimulate sustainable and profitable small to medium business enterprises; to foster job creation and to empower women to contribute to the economic and social development of the country.
The use of technology is aimed at improving the quality of life of people by increasing their income from sustainable small-scale food processing enterprises. This is achieved by transferring information and expertise in food processing enterprise development and meeting the food safety and food quality standards.
This project has demonstrated the importance of linking indigenous knowledge and scientific knowledge to benefit the people. The process is aimed at accelerating innovation by systematic and focused efforts that build on indigenous scientific methods as well as examples from outside the community or country.
The establishment of small and micro enterprises will contribute substantially to poverty reduction and more importantly to job creation. Therefore their productivity, quality and competitiveness have to be enhanced though inputs of technology, training and marketing.
At the Gala Evening the best dishes in the Province will be identified. The purpose of this function will be to introduce indigenous foods to the urban population and get feedback from them on which dishes they would like to see in their shops and restaurants.
Although the project is in its pilot stage with fairs already having taken place in KwaZulu Natal, the Free State and the Northern Province, the intention is to extend to other provinces. The project encompasses the full chain of activities required to bring a new product onto the market. These include the identification of potentially commercially viable dishes, provision of technical expertise in the packaging and processing of the product and the setting up of food processing centres to ensure that a viable supply chain is in place.
"Ensuring continuity in the supply and marketing of the crops involves many crucial aspects," says CSIR Project Manager, Tshidi Moroka, "This includes organising and assisting local farmers in producing and cultivating the new indigenous crops, sourcing of technologies to increase their production and improve the quality and the strengthening or establishing of agro-processing methods in rural areas."
Ms Moroka continues, "Although small scale food processing provides opportunities for income generation and employment for people, processors face a fiercely competitive market. It is therefore imperative that the small-scale processors are able to meet the standards to be able to compete locally and regionally. "
The project is being run in a number of phases starting with the identification of suitable dishes within the districts to compete at provincial level. Selection is done through the local women's groups, in five categories namely, cereal, vegetables, fruit, beverage and snacks; and the entrants are expected to prepare indigenous dishes using available resources.
A recipe book will also be compiled from the winning dishes, with the royalties from any sales being paid to the women who participated in the development of the recipes.
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Issued by: CSIR Technology for Development. The CSIR is the largest R&D and implementation technology agency in Africa with a track record spanning more than 50 years. Structured around 8 distinct business areas,it delivers innovation and technology solutions in support of itsclients and stakeholders. See www.CSIR.co.za or contact +27 12 841 2000.