– Lia Snijman. Above: African Data Technologies has previously been involved with food projects, such as this one. “Building the greenhouse has been the dream from the very beginning when we started growing seedlings and making compost in Klapmuts at the start of 2020.” Photo: Facebook.

African Data Technologies is a Stellenbosch based business that has most recently started their organic waste project to help curb wastage, reduce the unnecessary release of methane, and create organic compost for local farmers – all by asking families to give them their organic waste.

African Data Technologies, or AD-TECH, is a company “on a mission to tackle social and sustainability challenges with data-driven solutions”. They explain that they want to avoid having organic waste (waste that originated from living organisms and that is usually biodegradable) ending up in a landfill because it decomposes and releases methane there, something that is more damaging than CO2.

They decided to create organic compost “which reintroduces valuable organics into the nutrient cycle and reduces the need for chemical fertilisers”.

This is still a pilot project, so they’ve chosen their first group of small-scale farmers from Klapmuts, Cloetesville and Ida’s Valley to be part of the rollout.

African Data Technologies has asked locals for their help in their compost project. Photo: Facebook.

African Data Technologies has asked locals for their help in their compost project. Photo: Facebook.

They said they want the farmers “to empower themselves through the piece of land they own, to grow food for their families and if there are extra, to sell their harvest for an additional income”.

AD-TECH will be giving the farmers capacity and advisory support to get them started. “This includes supplying them with seeds, sponsoring them with tools and sharing the communication skills required to collect organics from the wider Stellenbosch area. It is of utmost importance to us that all plans are context-specific to the people and the environment,” they said.

They also plan to connect the farmers to a marketplace via a website that is linked through their own website. They are currently working on the ShaRE mobile application in partnership with Ranyaka for the farmers to use in the future.

 The Stellenbosch families that contribute their organic waste to this project also pay R150 which gives them 25 compostable bags, a 7-litre compost caddy and somebody who collects their organic waste weekly.

“You have the option of signing up for a monthly support fee of R100 which will go towards a dedicated grower and allow them to get off the ground. You will be able to see exactly where your organic waste is going and who you are supporting,” said AD-TECH. They add that particpants will receive 4 to 6 seedlings every week.

Another thing that has driven them to start the project, is the fact that the Western Cape has implemented a ban on organic waste going to landfill by 2027. “We truly believe that Stellenbosch residents have the capacity and the willingness to do the right thing, they just need to be given the opportunity to do the right thing,” they said.

“We truly believe that a private recycling and organic waste service that receives subsidies (from the municipality) is the best solution to divert waste from landfill, reward households and connect low- and higher-income households with each other.” They added: “We hope private businesses will help to drive the ban on organic waste going to landfill, especially if they see the impact it can have on a community.”

They want to start their organic waste collection as soon as possible to get the compost ready as the farmers will require 2 to 3 months before than can harvest anything.

“We would also like to connect households to their organic waste collector through the platform and if they would like to start their own veggie garden at home, this person can assist with it, at no charge, all that we request is that the household shares the harvest with the grower to allow them to sell it to other households (which will be their primary source of income),” they said.

AD-TECH said: “Through our platform, we will also provide peer reviews on our ‘growers’, to ensure that anyone we send to your house can be vouched for by someone we have direct contact with, households can also review their waste collectors and vegetables, and we will add it to the profile of the person (to ensure we remain transparent).”

If you would like to join their pilot project, you can find them on social media or email mirandi@sharesa.co.za. They would also appreciate any donations of gardening equipment, especially old shovels, wheelbarrows and rakes.