The role of wild vegetable species in household food security in maize based subsistence cropping systems
Dr Willem de Clercq, Researcher: Department of Soil Science, Faculty of AgriSciences, Stellenbosch University.
Wild vegetables (WVs) are an important source of food in the maize-based subsistence-farming sector of rural South Africa. Their main role is as relish, as they are used as an accompaniment for staple cereal-based diets. They are generally reported to be rich in micronutrients and, although they may be consumed in small quantities, they influence the intake of cereal staples, manage hunger and play a central role in household food security for the poorer rural groups. Mixing several WV species in one meal contributes to dietary diversity in terms of more vegetable types and choice of relish; for some very poor families, WVs are even substitutes for some food crops. The seasonal occurrence of these vegetables, however, leaves many families without a food source during the off-season. WVs increase agrobiodiversity at the household level, which helps to buffer the accumulation and multiplication of pests and diseases and provides important cover for soil. Further research on agronomic, social and economic dimensions is required.
BSc Agriculture / Agronomy, Africa University, Zimbabwe (1996);
MPhil Agriculture, University of Zimbabwe (2005)
Faculty of AgriSciences,
Dept. of Soil Science (2010)
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