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Friday Oct 05, 2012

Future of Cape Town's 'bread basket' in the balance

The future of the highly productive agricultural land on the Cape Flats known as the Philippi Horticultural Area (PHA) will be clearer next month.

This is when four intergovernmental working groups looking at issues affecting the 1 400-hectare area are due to report back.

The PHA is the city's "bread basket", producing just under 100 000 tons of more than 50 kinds of fresh produce every year, including an estimated 2 000 tons given free to the farmworkers.

Although it is under serious threat from illegal dumping, burgeoning informal settlements and pressure from developers who want to rezone the area for urban use, it is is still highly viable as a food-producing area - especially for the poor living on the Cape Flats - and landowners are optimistic about its future and are making investments there.

However, they are "extremely frustrated" because of policy uncertainty relating to its future and to a lack of enforcement of current land use and environmental legislation.

This is according to new research into the link between the city's food security and the PHA, the results of which were presented recently to Provincial Planning and Environment MEC Anton Bredell.

Bredell was given a copy of the 70page summary report of the research recently during a meeting with the researchers and the Schaapkraal Civic and Environmental Association.

He told the Cape Argus it had been a "good and very positive" meeting and he had asked his department to work with the association and the other 700 people on their database.

Bredell was "a bit hesitant" to comment on specific issues at this stage, because the four working groups established by the province and the City of Cape Town were considering various aspects and were due to report back at the end of next month.

The working groups are looking at spatial planning and land use; agriculture and food security; environmental and land use legislation compliance and enforcement; and the illegal dumping of builders' rubble and waste management issues.

There would be "proper information" on which to base decisions after the report-back.

Although land had been acquired by the authorities, this did not necessarily mean it was going to be developed, Bredell added.

The report, 'Philippi Horticultural Area, a city asset or potential development node ?', was commissioned by Rooftops Canada Foundation - Foundation Abri International, in partnership with the African Food Security Urban Network.

Cape Argus

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