SOME HIGHLIGHTS FROM 2022
Efforts to strengthening and expand collective structures
Efforts to mobilise different segments of workers in various sub-sectors, including citrus, livestock, mohair, wool, and dairy, were strengthened in 2022. A package on capitals mapping was piloted with seasonal and permanent workers and women support groups from these sub-sectors, so as to amplify social mobilisation among the different segments of agrarian workers.
Apart from enhancing social mobilisation of agrarian labour, the workshop also sought to encourage participants to think about their context, available resources, including natural resources and local eco-systems, and how these may be used to assist their lobbying to improve working and living conditions and brokering of services. It is envisaged that these efforts will not only lead to strengthening of area committees in these sub-sectors but may lead to the expansion of collective structures as well. Citrus workers in the Sundays River Valley who are part of ECARP’s programmes mobilised to establish appropriate worker-led workplace structure in the aftermath of the April 2022 strike. Workers in at least 10 workplaces set up interim structures comprised of seasonal and permanent workers that would engage with employers. However, the balance of forces in the Sundays River Valley lie with employers,
and workers continue to feel intimidated and harassed when they mobilise, organise, and express their voice. Despite this context, a platform has been laid for workers to continue their mobilising efforts to set up authentic worker led structures in orchards and packhouses and to establish a bargaining or dialogue forum, comprised of the relevant agencies, in the area. To expand collective structures and enhance women’s voice, ECARP established a women support group comprising 12 micro-food producing women from Eluxolweni, a township in Makhanda. The setting up of the women support group at Eluxolweni increased the number of women support groups ECARP has established to seven, comprising 87 women. Members of the Eluxolweni women support group were crucial in setting up a solidarity agri-hub that has various functions including producing, marketing and saving collectively in this township. This support group is an important step in expanding the number of female micro-food producers at local levels who are using ecologically sound methods to produce food. Towards the end of 2022, members of this solidarity agri-hub collaborated with schools and micro-food producers from other townships in Makhanda and had a market day where agricultural produce, hand-made jewellery and reed mats were some of the items marketed. For the micro-food producers, this market day was crucial in strengthening local markets of agro-ecological produce in the Makhanda townships.
Decent Work in Agriculture
Enforcing decent work
ECARP continued to support farm committees to enforce core aspects decent work on their respective farms. Consequently, 97 per cent of the 70 farm committees ECARP interacted with continued to enforce core aspects of decent work on their respective farms by ensuring at least one of the following decent work indicators:
- Women and men workers from 90 per cent of the farm committees receive mandatory wages or above;
- Farm committees ensured that farm owners began to implement protocols of decent work. Workers from
- 96 per cent of the farm committees are receiving protective clothing;
- 93 per cent of the farm committee are registered for Unemployment Insurance Fund Benefits;
- 78 per cent of the farm committees are receiving proper payslips;
- 76 per cent of the farm committees are receiving contracts of employment.
- Workers and dwellers from 94 per cent of the farm committees ensured access to the land on the farms for gardening or keeping livestock;
- Houses of farm workers and dwellers on 76 per cent of the farms have roofs that are durable and waterproof;
- Houses of farm workers and dwellers on 88 per cent of the farm committees have glass windows that can open;
- Farm workers and dwellers on 79 per cent of the farm committees have access to electricity;
- Farm workers and dwellers on 97 per cent of the farm committees have access to safe water inside their houses or in close proximity; and
- Farm workers and dwellers on 85 per cent of the farm committees have access to flush or pit latrine toilets inside their houses or in close proximity.
ECARP working alongside communities to claim land and tenure rights
In 2022, ECARP continued to work closely with dwellers from Glenboyd Farm, a farm just outside of Makhanda, to protect the tenure rights of the community to the farm owners’ attempts to constructively evict the farm dwellers, as claim land rights to a piece of land on this farm. ECARP supported members of the Glenboyd farm committee to lodge a complaint with the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) centred around the violation of the Glenboyd farm occupiers’ tenure rights. The SAHRC is in the process of investigating the complaints lodged.
ECARP and the farm committee also consulted various legal entities in the Eastern Cape to represent the farm dwellers in their bid to acquire positive rights to the land they currently occupy. Finally, ECARP was successful in securing the services of the Legal Resource Centre (LRC) in Grahamstown to act as the legal representative for the dwellers to explore legal assistance. Following various consultation meetings with the occupiers, the LRC and ECARP have worked towards engaging the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development to coerce the department to intervene in the Glenboyd case. The Glenboyd farm owners’ legal representation was also engaged to demand compliance with Extension of Security of Tenure Act. ECARP, members of the Glenboyd farm committee, and LRC are exploring the possibilities of the dwellers acquiring substantive rights to the land they currently reside on and use for food production.
Food Sovereignty Programme
1. Donation of garden toolkits to micro-food producers working with ECARP
With assistance from the First Rand Foundation, ECARP distributed 1 058 garden toolkits to 655 small-scale farmers and micro-food producers who are ECARP partners in its Food Sovereignty programme. The distributed garden tools and equipment include 179 garden toolkits, 296 watering cans, 290 hose-pipes and 293 wheelbarrows.
Following receipt of the garden toolkits, partners expressed some benefits regarding the use and importance of the garden tools and equipment, for the food production activities. Ms Mkrwekrwe, from the Eluxolweni Township in Makhanda, shared how she was able to transport water containers to her garden, with the use of the wheelbarrow. Ms Mkrwekrwe’s garden is located at a place where there is no water source. As a result, she is forced to travel to fetch water for irrigation purposes. The wheelbarrow assists with carrying water containers to her garden.
Mrs Mwerwe in her garden
Micro-food producers have found tool to be very useful
Ms Mali from Fort Brown, an area just outside of Makhanda, also shared the benefits of now owning a wheelbarrow. She stated; “As an old woman, the wheelbarrow will help me with carrying things such as manure. This means that I will not tire easily from the various trips I would normally make to carry the manure”. Ms Jacobs, from Oakleaf in the Zuney area, said: “My husband and I are now able to share the tasks when working in our garden. For example, when we are removing weeds, we both share this task because we now have two hoes – the old one we had and the new one we have just received from ECARP. When we are harvesting, we do not have to carry heavy loads, we just load our produce into the wheelbarrow. Having these tools will enable us to extend our plots because we will be able to irrigate the plots using a watering can and hosepipe. Before having these tools, we were unable to extend our plots because we were worried that if we plant in big plots, we will not be able to irrigate the crops”.
Archie Mbolekwa Primary School: learners transplanting bean seedlings
2. A supply of seedlings to micro-food producers
In 2022, ECARP continued to produce vegetables and seedlings in the organisation’s garden and nursery developed in 2020. The organisation made donations of 440 celery, beetroot, broccoli and cabbage seedlings that were produced in the ECARP nursery to five schools in Makhanda and Carlisle Bridge, a group of micro-food producers in Makhanda, and from Committees Drift. The produce from the seedlings was consumed by the micro-food producers, their families as well as school children.
3. A rise in small-scale farmers and micro-food producers marketing produce
Compared to 2021, in 2022, ECARP saw an increase of micro-food producers marketing their agricultural produce by 12 per cent. The marketing partners increased their income by 114 per cent and their collective profit by 160 per cent between 2021 and 2022. This is a great milestone as it reflects how micro-food producers are increasing their collective income through farming activities, especially in a context of increasing costs of living in the country and high unemployment. The micro-food producers used the profits generated to enhance the quality of their lives through saving some of these profits, buying furniture, buying school uniform for their children, purchasing building material as well as re-investing in their farming activities through buying livestock.