The Urban Agriculture Revolution

Moderator: Ms Sakino Kamwendo, SAfm

Minister Mrs Naledi Pandor, Minister of Science and Technology

Panelist: Prof Bernard Lehmann, Federal Office for Agriculture

Panelist: Dr Shadrack Moephuli, South African Agricultural Research Council

Panelist: Prof Matteo Vittuari, University of Bologna

Recent studies indicate that the share of people living in metropolitan areas will reach approximately 65 per cent of the world population by 2050. The migration towards urban settlements is particularly significant in the developing world, including Sub-Saharan Africa. Rapid population growth endangers the rationale development of cities and often results in the creation of slums where food insecurity is a risk.

Within this framework, urban food systems are becoming increasingly important.

Urban agriculture may represent an additional source of food for the poorer. Cities and regions are devising local policies to build food security and are recognizing the challenge of improving the sustainability of local food systems also reducing the amount of food losses and waste.

The positive effects of urban farming and more sustainable urban food systems are numerous. On human health, easing the access to food sources in food insecure areas and promoting food and health literacy. On the society, influencing the social fabric of communities. On the economy, supporting job creation and the creation of new markets. On biodiversity and the environment.

Urban agriculture also triggers inclusive innovation: from food-production methods to machineries, robotics, and interventions to address food waste reduction, mobile apps development, social entrepreneurships and innovation.


Minister Naledi Pandor, Minister of Science and Technology

Naledi Pandor is South Africa’s Minister of Science and Technology. A life of exile from 1961 until 1984 resulted in an international flavour to her education. She holds a BA from the University of Botswana and Swaziland and an MA in Education from the University of London. In 1992 she studied for a Diploma in Higher Education, Administration and Leadership at Bryn Mawr in the USA. In 1997 she completed an MA in Linguistics at the University of Stellenbosch and a Diploma in Leadership in Development at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, while she was serving as an MP.

Pandor became an MP in 1994 and has amassed impressive experience in positions of public office, including deputy chief whip of the ANC in the National Assembly from 1995 to 1998, deputy chairperson of the National Council of Provinces in 1998, and its Chairperson from 1999-2004. Her experience in education policy planning made her a welcome appointment as South Africa’s Minister of Education in 2004. She has been a member of cabinet ever since, serving as Minister of Education (2004-2009), Minister of Science and Technology (2009-2012), Minister of Home Affairs (2012-2014), and currently as Minister of Science and Technology.

Pandor has received honorary doctorates from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, University of Stellenbosch, and the University of Lisbon (Portugal).

She was awarded the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s 2016 Science Diplomacy Award, for promoting development through science in South Africa and abroad.Jean Lebel, the President of Canada’s International Development Research Centre, recommended her for the award and wrote that she is leading numerous efforts to promote the research capacities of young and emerging scientists, particularly female scientists. “Under Minister Pandor’s leadership,” he continued, “South Africa has become a catalyst for developing scientific capabilities across the African continent”. The Association is world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science.

UNISA awarded her the Outstanding Educator Award, an award reserved for alumni and extraordinary South Africans. On awarding her Germany’s highest federal award, the Grand Cross of Merit, the German Ambassador to South Africa, Walter Lindner, said: “Pandor is for us a symbol of the new South Africa: modern, innovative, dedicated to scientific progress and also outstanding female leadership”.

She is married to Sharif Pandor and they have four children and two grandchildren.



Ms Sakina Kamwendo,SAFM, South Africa

Sakina Kamwendo is the award winning host of METRO FM Talk with Sakina which was voted the Best News & Actuality Show at the MTN Radio Awards 2013 and 2014.

Sakina’s radio journey started at Radio Eldos, a community station in Eldorado Park. Her big break came when Talk Radio 702 allowed her to screen calls for the overnight show but soon progressed to producing weekend and then early breakfast shows while still holding down a fulltime job at the Maths Centre. When she was offered the position as Traffic Reporter on the David O’Sullivan Show, she decided to quit Maths Centre to concentrate on broadcasting full time.

In addition to traffic, Sakina also hosted a graveyard slot at 702 and management showed confidence in her ability by asking her to “stand in” on other shows and produce the John Robbie Show. Whilst she loved working at 702, Sakina had greater on-air aspirations. With this in mind, Sakina moved to the SABC/ SAfm, where she now hosts “AM Live” as well as the SABC’s #ForumAt8.

The session will be broadcasted live on her radio show.



Dr. Shadrack Moephuli, South Africa Agriculture Research Council, South Africa

Dr. Shadrack Moephuli has been President and Chief Executive Officer of the Agricultural

Research Council (ARC), South Africa, since 2006. Prior to joining the ARC, he served in the Department of Agriculture of South Africa, first as Director Genetic Resources from 1999-2003 and later as Chief Director Agricultural Production from 2003-2006. His responsibilities in the Department included developing and implementing policies and strategies for agricultural production.  He has also represented South Africa at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and at many other event.

He has extensive experience on policy and legal aspects of biotechnology and biosafety having served on the SADC Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and Biosafety and chaired the Executive Council of the Genetically Modified Organisms Act, 1997, the highest decision making body on genetically modified organisms in South Africa. He was instrumental in development of South Africa’s National Agricultural Biotechnology Strategy and has represented his country at several international negotiations on biosafety and biodiversity.

Prior to joining government, Dr. Moephuli was a biochemistry lecturer at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.

He is currently serving as a board member of the National Advisory Council on Innovation (NACI) and the Academy of Science of South Africa Council. Previously he served as a board member on the CGIAR Genetic Resources Policy Committee, chaired the Board of GALVmed, and was a member of several national and international panels including the Institutional Review Panel of the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) in 2014.

Dr. Moephuli obtained his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Connecticut.



Prof. Bernard Lehmann, Swiss Federal Office for Agriculture, Switzerland

Bernard Lehmann was appointed Director of the Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG) on 1 July 2011. Before taking up this post, he was Professor of Agricultural Economics at the Department of Agricultural and Food Sciences of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETHZ). For many years he was the director of the Institute for Agricultural Sciences, and subsequently head of the Department for Agricultural and Food Sciences. Mr Lehmann came from a farming background and between 1973 and 1977 he studied agricultural sciences at the ETHZ and gained a bachelor degree in agricultural engineering. After working as a scientific assistant at the Swiss Farmers’ secretariat in Brugg, he gained a doctorate from the Institute of Agricultural Economics of the ETHZ and then went back to work at the Farmers’ secretariat and the Swiss Farmers’ Union, where he was head of the agricultural economics section. From 1987 to 1991 Mr Lehmann was Deputy Director of the Swiss Farmers’ Union




Dr Matteo Vittuari, University of Bologna, Italy

Matteo Vittuari, PhD in International Cooperation and Sustainable Development Policies at the University of Bologna, was post-doctoral fellow at the Center for International Development at the Harvard University and carried out post-doctoral research in several other universities and research centers in Europe and USA. He is associate professor in agricultural and food policy and agricultural policy evaluation at the Department of Agricultural and Food Sciences at the University of Bologna. His research interests include food policy with particular attention in food waste and losses, economic and social aspects of agro-food and bioenergy systems, rural development policy. He worked as international consultant for the evaluation of EU and FAO funded projects in Europe and Central Asia.

He is currently coordinating the behavioural economics Work Package within the Horizon2020

REFRESH “Resource Efficient Food and dRink for the Entire Supply cHain”. He is serving as

Steering Committee member and as Lead of the Publication Team within the “Rural Policy Learning Commons (RPLC)” project funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of the Government of Canada. He coordinated the policy Work Package within the FP7 FUSIONS “Food Use for Social Innovation by Optimising Waste Prevention Strategies”.



Concept Note:
Italy-Swiss Session Concept Note – Science Forum South Africa 2017
CSIR-ICC, Pretoria, 8th December 2017, h 07:30
Recent United Nations’ predictions indicate that the share of people living in metropolitan areas will reach approximately 65 per cent of the world population by 2050. The migration towards urban settlements is particularly significant in the developing world, including Sub-Saharan Africa, where people displace from rural to urban areas in search of better economic opportunities. Rapid population growth endangers the rationale development of cities and often results in the creation of slums where poverty is a common share.
Limited economic resources often imply food insecurity. Urban agriculture may not only represent a viable additional source of income but also secure additional availability of food for the poorer. Nowadays, between 15 and 20 per cent of the world’s food is produced in urban areas (Worldwatch, 2011).
A reckless approach to urban farming can pose a threat to human health and the environment associated to, e.g. the use of contaminated land and water, an inappropriate handling of pesticides and organic manure. Public regulations, proper urban planning and agricultural policies are therefore required to provide guidance and assistance and prevent the diffusion of harmful practices. Nevertheless, the positive effects of urban farming are far more numerous (see e.g. Golden 2013 and references therein).
On human health, easing the access to food sources in food insecure areas, promoting food and health literacy, increasing the actual consumption of fruit and vegetable, inducing physical activity (see e.g. Corrigan 2011, SPUR 2012). These are significant aspects in contrasting the social determinants for non-communicable diseases, with a positive feedback on the health status of the population and in bringing down the health care costs. In South Africa, this is certainly what the future National Health Commission will be focusing upon.
In terms of social impact, innovative urban farming can have an influence on the social fabric of communities. Urban gardens and farms can improve the physical space of the neighbourhood and reduce blight. In addition, urban agriculture creates and eases access to land, promotes social cohesion, youth development opportunities and education and opportunities for cross-generational and cultural integration.
On the economic level, urban agriculture can support job creation, training and innovative business incubation, the creation of new markets, economic savings on food, saving for municipal agencies and improve the values of real estate properties.
Urban agriculture has a positive impact on biodiversity and the environment , triggering the remediation of polluted soils, waste and water recycling and reducing heat island effects.
Urban agriculture triggers innovation in an authentic inclusive manner: from food-production methods to machineries, robotics, mobile app development and social entrepreneurships.
Corrigan, M. P. (2011). Growing what you eat: Developing community gardens in Baltimore, Maryland. Applied Geography, 31(4), 1232–1241.
Golden S. (2013) Urban agriculture impacts: social, health and economic, a literature review. University of California Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program, Agricultural Sustainability Institute, UC Davis.
SPUR. (2012). Public Harvest. SPUR Report, 1–36.
Worldwatch (2011), State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet, State of the World Brief Series, Worldwatch Institute Report.


By | 2017-12-01T12:46:39+00:00 October 6th, 2017|