THE ROLE OF TRADITIONAL LEAFY VEGETABLES IN THE FOOD SECURITY OF RURAL HOUSEHOLDS IN SOUTH AFRICA
The informal cultivation and harvesting practices of traditional leafy vegetables (TLVs) led to their denigration by both research and extension since the 1960s. In spite of this development, many rural households still depend to a great extent on these plants for their food security strategies. Quantitative and qualitative methodologies were used in four rural villages to determine the utilization and production practices associated with TLVs. Traditional leafy crops are important fresh crops during the rainy season. They are especially important in dried form during winter and spring seasons. The availability of TLVs in dried form on the local market as a source of cheap protein and as a winter vegetable is, however, limited. TLVs are in general readily available in South Africa, tasty and easy to cultivate with minimal management. Pumpkins and cowpea are more popular for food security as they supply more than one product (leaves, seed, fruit, and flowers). Wild plants such as Amaranthus species, Cleome gynandra, and Corchorus species are very popular and still widely available in the communities. Decline of plant populations could be attributed to climatic conditions and human preferences. Cooking time within and between villages vary greatly, causing some concern for the loss of nutrients. Nutrient loss during drying and the food safety aspects of TLVs are discussed in this paper. The importance of TLVs in the food security strategies is being limited due to loss of biodiversity and the associated indigenous knowledge. This will have a severe effect on many of the vulnerable groups in the rural areas.
Vorster, H.J., van Rensburg, W.S.J., Stevens, J.B. and Steyn, G.J. (2009). THE ROLE OF TRADITIONAL LEAFY VEGETABLES IN THE FOOD SECURITY OF RURAL HOUSEHOLDS IN SOUTH AFRICA. Acta Hortic. 806, 23-28
underutilized crops, indigenous knowledge, biodiversity