The UNEP sponsored surplus food redistribution application project, Food For Us, has had a busy last few weeks with the project being officially launched at the beginning of August.
This project aims to develop and trial a mobile phone application in South Africa which contributes towards the alleviation of food insecurity, transformation of markets and aids access to nutritious food in a country where significant food loss occurs on-farm.
The Food For Us project was launched in the Western Cape on the 1st of August at the Sustainability Institute in Stellenbosch and in the Eastern Cape on the 3rd of August at Rhodes University in Grahamstown.
The workshops created a space for participatory, co-engaged app design. Farmers and users all contributed ideas on how the application should be designed. They detailed the functions that they wanted to app to have. For example, they asked for a chat space, and for indicators for organic produce. And some were interested in a donation function.
A combination of over 100 interested parties attended the Sustainability Institute and Rhodes University workshops collectively. This number included a diverse collection of rural, small scale emerging farmers as well as larger independent farmers. A number of charities, feeding schemes, restaurants and consumer organisations also attended the workshops.
The Rhodes University workshop attracted a large number of small scale emerging farmers from the Raymond Mhlaba area which helped to highlight the needs of small scale farmers in the Eastern Cape and how the application could deal with these needs.
Government department representatives from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries; the Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform and the Department of Trade and Industry also showed great interest in the project.
Suggestions from the workshop were recorded and later discussed with the application developers. This has informed a revision from ‘Version 0’ to ‘Version 1’, which is now being field tested. To support the testing, a series of training workshops were held, again in the Eastern and Western Cape.
Two app use training wrokshops were held in the Western Cape (Stanford and surrounds & Khayelitsha and Phillippi) and two in the Eastern Cape (Grahamstown and surrounds & Raymond Mhlaba).
Here the app users were guided through the use of the application.
This meeting was also used to introduce the users to the research team and to the social learning research that the team will undertake. The social learning research will identify value created via the social learning processes as people learn to use the app, and share it more widely.
These workshops, although much smaller than the initial workshop, were beneficial in making direct and personal contact with the participants and introducing them to a tangible version of the application.
The highly anticipated Food For Us application is scheduled to go live on Monday the 18th of September. We look forward to updating you on further progress thereafter. For more information on the Food For Us project, please visit the project’s website, which has also just been launched, and like the facebook page! http://foodforus.co.za/ .
Written by Sarah Durr