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Food Dialogues 2020: Building healthier, resilient and just food systems

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This event brings together a diverse and inclusive range of voices to engage in key issues intimately connected to the food we eat and the future of food.

Issues around food, nutrition and hunger have reached a new level of urgency as the widespread, ongoing hunger in South Africa and many parts of the world are exacerbated by the global COVID-19 pandemic and responses to it.

From 20 July – 14 August, Food Dialogues: Cape Town 2020 will focus on the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact it has had and will have on Cape Town’s food system. The initiative is hosted by the SA Urban Food & Farming Trust, in partnership with the DSI-NRF Centre of Excellence in Food Security;  the DG Murray Trust, African Centre for Cities, Oribi Village, the City of Cape Town, ICLEI and Derrick. The digital summit will bring together a diverse and inclusive range of voices involved in shaping the food system, providing an opportunity for food growers, academics, activists, writers, nutritionists, policy makers, food lovers and anyone interested in better approaches to engage in key issues intimately connected to the food we eat and the future of food.

Food insecurity, a longstanding problem in South Africa, has gained new awareness communities, but in spite of some heroic and historic efforts and innovations, we continue to fall short of meeting far too many people’s basic food needs.

“The COVID-19 pandemic presents significant challenges for food systems in Africa over the foreseeable future. Compounded by increasing numbers of undernourished people, uncertain political, economic and environmental contexts; measures to control the pandemic have aggravated already strained household incomes; leaving those already living from hand to mouth unable to feed themselves or their families. At the same time, disruptions to the increasingly global food value chain have exacerbated legacy problems with food security. The Food Dialogues come at an opportune time, bringing diverse voices into the conversations about how we bring about the changes we need in our food system to protect livelihoods and eliminate hunger, while at the same time dealing with the health challenge and the economic consequences of the virus and its mitigation.”  So says Prof Julian May, Director DSI-NRF Centre of Excellence in Food Security.

The Food Dialogues are an opportunity after the initial shock of the pandemic and lockdown to assess the situation, the response, and the way forward. “Everybody eats. So we’re all part of the food system. But we each experience food differently according to our cultures, tastes, resources, geographies, ideas, opportunities and education,” says Kurt Ackermann, Executive Manager, SA Urban Food & Farming Trust.

For Ackerman, who conceptualised the Food Dialogues, the platform provides an opportunity “to share our stories, discuss our hopes and fears, and to imagine better ways to not just feed, but to nourish ourselves, our families and our communities,” he says.

It is clear that we need a resilient, healthier and just food system. An innovative platform for engagement, Food Dialogues, is a step towards that goal.

WATCH: Understanding Cape Town’s Food System: Facts, figures, flowsJane Battersby Associate Professor, African Centre for Cities, University of Cape Town


Key Dates:

Registration opened:                          13 July

First content released:                       20 July

Speaker talks released:                      27 – 31 July

Facilitated engagement:                    27 July – 10 August

Speaker responses:                             3 – 7 August

Moderated panel discussions:          10 – 14 August


This is an edited and abridged version of the original media statement issued by the SA Urban Food & Farming Trust. Access the full statement here.

For more information, visit the Food Dialogues website:


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