The African Food Security Urban Network (AFSUN), a project within the African Centre for Cities, led a research project initiated by Rooftops Canada - Abri International, undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). The research sought to understand a particular component of the Cape Town food system, the Philippi Horticultural Area, and the role that this played in the broader city food system.
The City of Cape Town faces a unique challenge, one not faced by any other city or urban management area in South Africa. The challenge is one of seeking ways to manage and administer a large portion of land, land carrying rural status, located within the immediate urban environment, and within an area of significant poverty and need, namely the Cape Flats.
This pressure is further compounded by a lack of current and accessible information about the viability, sustainability or potential of the area. Due to the nature of production and complex links between the Philippi Horticultural Area (PHA) and the food system of the City of Cape Town, the challenge of the Philippi Horticultural Area is of importance to more than the specific Philippi stakeholders. Decisions about the area have far broader implications, implications that could undermine livelihood strategies and resilience of a far wider set of stakeholders. This challenge is made all the more urgent by an increase in requests for zoning changes and land use departures within the PHA.
The dynamic mix between what is argued to be a viable food production area, perceptions of an opportunity for potential housing developments for those living in informality and need, an opportunity for developers to capitalise on strategically located land, and conflicting perspectives of what is urban or non urban and what is part of the city landscape and what is not, adds to the tensions and ongoing debates about the PHA, its value, viability and status in the longer term.
This research sought to assess the importance of the Philippi Horticultural Area in terms of its overall value to the entire Cape Town food system. Previous assessments of the PHA have not taken an explicit food lens. It is argued that a number of the previous reports have implicitly argued, or, due to the focus of the reports, created (although not necessarily intentionally) a view that the food value of this area is negligible and that the broader globalised South African food system would cover any slack created by the loss of this area. This report sought to understand the current PHA/Cape Town food system relationship, the opportunities and challenges that this offered, the beneficiaries of this system and other potential but previously ignored values and challenges presented by the PHA.
The report has been drafted as a result of work carried out by a number of researchers, including Dr Jane Battersby Lennard, Gareth Haysom, Jess Rattle and Frances Davies. The research report was drafted by Dr Jane Battersby Lennard and Gareth Haysom (corresponding author).