Coastal Links member Rowina Marthinus from Aniston and Masifundise’s field worker for KwazuluNatal Lindani Ngubane this week returned from a festival in Italy where they did a presentation on South Africa’s small-scale fisheries (ssf) policy.

The Slow Food Festival is a project of the Sustainable Food Trust, which describes the initiative on its website, as follows;

Slow Food is an ecologically based gastronomy movement, which seeks to promote the greater enjoyment of food by sharing an understanding of taste, quality and production. Slow Fish promotes eating in a ‘slow style’, savouring taste while choosing good, clean and fair fish, pushing the market through consumer choice towards responsible management of the sea’s resources. Small, low-impact and artisan businesses are the fastest declining part of the fishing industry. This is why Slow Fish is such an important movement now. The Slow Fish biennial festival promotes projects supporting sustainable artisan skilled fishing, and responsible maritime communities along with showcasing a range of delicious seafood in the food market.”

The festival was attended by 5 000 delegates from 160 countries, over 800 exhibitors, 300 Slow Food Presidia and 500 Terra Madre food communities.

“The festival is a great experience where food producers come together to share insights,” said Marthinus.

The festival, the most important international event dedicated to food and gastronomy brought together exhibitors from five continents, hosted numerous events dedicated to the wealth and diversity of global cuisine, food trucks, street food, artisanal beer, cinema screenings, and conferences examining issues around food production.

Masifundise and Coastal links attended the festival as part of the Slow Food “get to know your fish” component. Ngubane and Marthinus delivered a talk on the Equality Court case which brought about the formulation of the Small-Scale Fisheries Policy.  A number of representatives from the small-scale fisheries sector participated in the discussions.

“We shared our experiences as Small-Scale Fishers with other fishers of the world and through this, we realised that there are a number of similar experiences with others,” said Marthinus.

Ngubane, who experience being abroad for the first time, said that the experience was an eye opener. “There were a lot of small-scale food producers involved in fishing, farming, and gardening and these people work together,” he commented.

“I felt a sense of communal spirit especially with the locals, people work together to achieve a certain goal and they help lift each other up,” he further stated.

He was alluding to the fact that local farmers come together to market their products and find a common market. They then produce in mass and share profits.

Marthinus said that the festival is a supporting mechanism for small-scale farmers. “We shared our challenges and together came up with possible solutions by looking at how others solve their problems,” she stated.

According to the festival’s website the organisers says that “we’re learning more about how our food is made, preserving biodiversity and securing a better food future for everyone”.

“The most important battle for the future is the right to food for all, on the mitigation of climate change, protection of biodiversity, and man’s relationship with food production and with the earth. Altogether, with our everyday choices, we have an extraordinary potential. We may contrast the grip of multinational firms with the power of social ties, freedom of choice, the defence of the commons and the common good. Millions of people, with their choices and their daily work, can build a better world.” – Carlo Petrini, President of Slow Food

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