The significance of African vegetables in ensuring food security for South Africa’s rural poor

Hart, T.G.B. (2011) The significance of African vegetables in ensuring food security for South Africa’s rural poor. Agriculture and Human Values, 28 (3). pp. 321-333.

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Technologies and services provided to resource-poor farmers need to be relevant and compatible with the context in which they operate. This paper examines the contribution of extension services to the food security of resource-poor farmers in a rural village in South Africa. It considers these in terms of the local context and the production of African vegetables in household food plots. A mixture of participatory, qualitative and quantitative research tools, including a household survey, is used to argue that local production practices contribute more to food security requirements than the extension services. This is because of the ability of African vegetables to grow relatively well in semi-arid areas where other exotic plants do not, their ability to provide at least two foodstuffs during their life cycle, and the ability of either the fruit or the leaves, or both, to be dried and stored for consumption in the winter months. These crops can make a significant contribution in terms of household food security, but a number of social and agroecological factors are constraining their production and placing their availability under threat. Despite this, the extension services remain focused on certain activities within vegetable garden projects, even when these are not meeting their proposed purpose—food security by means of cash-crop production. The paper concludes that social and agroecological constraints could be improved if the extension services were changed. This could include the use of context specific and low-cost technologies to ensure that these crops are able to increase their contribution to household food security for resource-poor farmers in semi-arid areas.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: African vegetables, Exotic vegetables, Food security Resource-poor farmers, Semi-arid areas
Author Affiliation: Centre for Poverty, Employment and Growth, Human Sciences Research Council, Private Bag X41, Pretoria 0001, South Africa
Subjects: Social Sciences
Divisions: Other Crops
Depositing User: Ms Ishrath Durafsha
Date Deposited: 17 Apr 2014 05:55
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2014 05:55
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