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Nelson Mandela University (2019)

The socio-economic importance of indigenous vegetables to the Ntuze smallholder farming community in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Qwabe, Qinisani Nhlakanipho

Titre : The socio-economic importance of indigenous vegetables to the Ntuze smallholder farming community in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Auteur : Qwabe, Qinisani Nhlakanipho

Université de soutenance : Nelson Mandela University

Grade : Master of Agriculture 2019

Résumé
South Africa continues to face multiple socio-economic challenges – one of the direst being food insecurity, especially in rural areas. Compounding the challenges is the impact of changing weather patterns on agriculture. The current study presents evidence indicating that indigenous vegetables provide a sustainable yet inexpensive answer to several of these challenges. The research was aimed at determining the socio-economic impact of indigenous vegetables in the Ntuze community of northern KwaZulu-Natal. A mixed-methods methodology was employed to achieve a holistic understanding of the relationship between the use of indigenous vegetables and socio-economic influences. The study discovered that indigenous vegetables play an important role in the livelihood strategy of this rural farming community. Findings revealed that the utilisation of indigenous vegetables makes an essential contribution to the livelihoods and well-being of the Ntuze people, especially in terms of curbing food poverty, income generation and medicinal benefits. However, the value of these vegetables was found to be appreciated mostly by the elderly. Conclusions therefore indicate a possible decline in future production and use of indigenous vegetables if indigenous knowledge is not passed on to the next generation. Integration of indigenous knowledge in agricultural technology transfer programmes is therefore vital to promote production of indigenous vegetables as a sustainable food resource. Actively addressing the stigma attached to indigenous vegetables as being “low-status food” is also crucial to enhance perception and understanding of the value of these vegetables. This would contribute to both preserving cultural heritage and conserving valuable indigenous flora. Such intervention would safeguard this sustainable and renewable resource in its pivotal socio-economic role in terms of rural food security as is substantiated by this study.

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