OFN Southern Africa is the result of a 3 way agreement between Kandu, African Conservation Trust and the Open Food Foundation.
The Kandu Data Management Platform was developed to train, monitor and manage subsistence and micro scale farmers in South Africa’s rural areas in organic and sustainable agriculture and is in use by several NGO’s concerned with food security, agrarian reform and conservation in KZN. Several thousand small scale food producers are currently being managed with the Kandu system and these farmers are producing sufficient surplus for sale to their local communities as well as to nearby urban centres.
Open Food Network (OFN) was developed by the Open Food Foundation in Australia which is a non-profit, registered charity established in October 2012, to develop and protect a commons of open source knowledge, code, applications and platforms for fair and sustainable food systems.
The African Conservation Trust (ACT) is an established not-for-profit and public benefit organisation that has been operating in southern Africa since 2000. Based in KwaZulu-Natal and with a historical footprint of working throughout southern Africa, ACT strives for environmental conservation and socio-economic sustainability. ACT works predominantly in areas where conflict exists between the natural environment and human habitation, and work to build sustainable communities that are economically, environmentally, and socially healthy and resilient.
The integration of Kandu with OFN will provide an open source technology platform on which producers of organic, ethically produced food and value added products will be able to self organise into localised value networks of collectives and food hubs in order to sell directly to the public. This collaborative commons based direct marketing strategy will benefit both producers and consumers in that producers will be able to earn more for their products without consumers paying more.
This is achieved through
- a strong emphasis on regional marketing and consumption which eliminates both the monetary and carbon cost of long distance transport ,
- the elimination of wasted produce in that produce is only shipped once ordered and paid for by the end user which in turn,
- negates the need for burdensome and energy intensive cold storage.
- Complete transparency in the production network which encourages relationship building between producers and consumers and negates the need for expensive branding and packaging and
- agility and flexibility in terms of distribution logistics which allows producers and hubs to collaborate among each other and with consumers to find the methodology most suited to their specific local conditions.
All of the above factors combine to negate the need for middle men such as market agents, bulk cold storage facilities, fresh produce markets, supermarkets and other parasitic entities which have been burdening our food production and distribution system.
According to UN statistics, two thirds of the food consumed on our planet is being produced by small scale farmers on less than a third of the agricultural land. OFN-SA provides a vessel for hundreds of thousands of marginalised, small scale farmers as well as urban food gardeners to collectively enter the macro economy in a vital and critical contribution to real food security. Seen against the backdrop of ever increasing corporate agricultural land grabs and government policies aligning with corporate interests in the agricultural sector, the establishment of a resilient, interconnected web of biophilic food producers has now become imperative in order to ensure the continued availability of organicly grown, non GM foodstuffs