A delegation from the National Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment (NDFFE) undertook an oversight visit to Mhani Gingi Centre of Social Entrepreneurial Excellence in Athlone, Cape Town, on a project oversight, knowledge gathering and learning visit to the first-in-the-country Mhani Gingi Agri-Processing Hub. This re-cycled shipping container, re-furbished in steel and turned into an energy-efficient, environmentally friendly food processing hub, was accomplished in 2021 with support from the Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning.
The visit in February 2022 was the first opportunity for Mr. Nhlanhla Sithole (Director: Monitoring and Evaluation) and Mr. Makgale Moela (Director: Extended Public Works Programme Coordination and Reporting) of the NDFFE to tour operations taking place in the hub.
“The purpose of the visit was for our national counterparts to see the outcome of the project implementation that was done at Mhani Gingi alongside the rest of the other project sites,” said Mr Ronald Mukanya, Director: Sustainability Management in the Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning.
“Obviously, the State-of-the-Art Agri-processing hub is the first in the country and the project implementation model that we’ve used on this project is also a first in the country. So, they’re also learning lessons from our experiences (in the province) and trying to distil those for learnings that can be used for future projects,” Mukanya said.
The visit was attended by Kent Bowen and Theo Meyer, ‘constructors’ from AfroCube Solutions at Hope Africa Collective, who designed and fitted the unique hub. It is also designed to allow wheelchair users access to work in the unit. Mhani Gingi can now cut, package, process, bake, bottle and dry fresh produce from the Mhani Gingi Nursery ground gardens and 10 community food gardens managed by Mhani Gingi in the Cape metropole. Mhani Gingi’s beneficiaries in vulnerable communities are trained in the unit to afford them income-generating skills and opportunities.
Staff and helpers at the Centre of Social Entrepreneurial Excellence served the visiting delegation a meal prepared in the hub. The menu included spinach pie and quiche, bottled garlic chilli salt, and fresh tomato smoor. The visitors were able to view and purchase fresh vegetables and bottled produce prepared in the hub.