Development of Philippi Horticultural Area a Threat to Food Security FeaturedWritten by Ryan Swano
The Philippi Horticultural Area not only produces up to 50% of all the fresh produce consumed in the greater part of Cape Town but also serves as the primary recharge zone of the Cape Flats Aquifer.
There is a continuing struggle between balancing the need for decent affordable housing and the need for food security.
However more creative ways to supply the housing demand needs to be found and it cannot be at the expense of Food Security.
It is of grave concern that the City of Cape Town seems to be going out of their way to try and accommodate developers Wentzel Oaker (Rapicorp) and John Coetzee (Uvest) in their quest to pave over large swaths of this sensitive and crucial farmland area.
Situated in such close proximity to Cape Town, Philippi Horticultural Area's fresh produce can be delivered at a much lower cost.
It is what continues to keep fresh nutrition within the reach of many who would otherwise not be able to afford it.
About half of all the carrots, cabbages, cauliflower and lettuce supplied to the city come from Philippi.
The area produces over 40 crops including coriander and leeks.
Verily this is Cape Town's bread basket under threat.
The developers are promising to build a "mini city" with more than 20 000 new homes. It is not clear at what income group the houses are aimed.
The developers say that they will also include an industrial development, a private school and a privately-owned prison.
We do not know of any private school which has ever been built with the intention of benefitting the poor.
Then there is the matter of the privately-owned prison... Are we really going the American route of prisons being built with profit-generation as its main motive?
The only way for privately-owned prisons to be sustainable and profitable is to continually feed them with Prisoners.
Nationally, Coloured Males have by far the highest rate of incarceration in relation to other population groups.
These same corporations will then lobby government to enact unreasonable laws that will ensure that their prisons remain full and there is no doubt that such laws will invariably target the poor who are mostly People of Colour.
What we already have is highly productive agricultural land that serves as the bread basket of the Cape Flats on ecologically and geologically sensitive land.
Development is much needed but this cannot be allowed to happen at the expense of food security and most likely also future water security.
The Cape Flats Aquifer has the potential to ensure water security for many generations to come, if among other things, access to the water tables through residential groundwater boreholes does not become something the city wants to make prohibitive for the population to access, thus making them solely dependent on the city's water supply system.
Another threat to water security is if the city goes the route of "first-world nations" where corporations control everything, and the city ends up granting exclusive-access contracts to large corporations as the only entities allowed "extraction rights" to exploit those water tables and selling our underground water supplies to the city, raking in huge profits.
The Shortage of Decent Afforbale Housing in Cape Town needs to be addressed in more creative ways but surely one cannot be expected to believe that these houses are aimed at any of the 300 000 people on Cape Town's housing Waiting List.
Still... For whichever income group it may be...
Providing housing at the expense of Food Security and to the Long-term Detriment of the Environment in terms of cutting off such a large and important replenishment and filtration source of the Cape Flats Aquifer should not be an option.
Also see the following for more info.
"Cape Town's bread basket under threat" on GroundUp.
"Fight for Philippi: Cape farmland could lose ground to housing" on Mail & Guardian
Join the mailing list!