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Exploring the benefits and challenges of indigenous foods in an African context using a case study of community gardens in the Western Cape of South Africa

De Bruin, Francia-Marie (2018-03)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2018.

Thesis

ENGLISH SUMMARY: Research suggests that the benefits and value of indigenous foods within the South African context have not been fully utilised. Their potential value to the South African food system and food security which is embedded within it, could be enhanced were their benefits to be explored more comprehensively. Therefore, the aim of this research was to systematically review literature using relevant search criteria and databases relating to underutilised indigenous crop species and foods in Africa as well as abroad (including the Oceania, South America and Asia). The intention was to provide an encompassing overview of both literature and literature gaps regarding nutritional, environmental, economic, and social-cultural benefits and challenges of indigenous food plants. The results show the need to recognise indigenous foods as a key resource in providing food and nutrition security. A major obstacle that emerged is that people are not valuing indigenous foods and thereby neglect the potential benefit of using them. This creates a space where loss of knowledge is significant from one generation to the next. Chapter 3 examines a selection of emerging community gardens in the Western Cape that are examples of gardens where both cultivation and utilisation of a range of indigenous food species is taking place, or is intended to take place. The community gardens were used as a case study to identify and interpret the benefits and challenges related to the production and usage of indigenous foods. This was done by conducting semi-structured interviews with various stakeholders who are interacting within these gardens in different ways. The main benefits that emerged included “reconnecting with one’s roots”, “creating awareness of the significance of indigenous foods”, the perception that “indigenous foods have a higher nutritional value than their exotic counterparts” and that providing access to information and research into on the cultivation and use of indigenous foods could enable them to become more mainstream as resilient and sustainable alternatives or supplementary foods resources. The most frequent challenges identified were “a lack of knowledge in identifying which indigenous foods are edible”, “a lack of knowledge in general about these foods (finding seeds, how to cultivate and use them)”, “inadequate nutrition-based testing of indigenous foods”, “lack of market access” and negative perceptions of their status. Indigenous and Traditional Foods (ITFCs) can have multiple uses and roles within society. Actors are attempting to diversify the food system by embracing more sustainable pathways that could provide food and nutrition security. In assessing the current climate of ITFCs and their emerging role of exploring and realising an alternative or supplementary agriculture as well as food resource, this thesis has highlighted future benefits that could be realised if the research gaps that were identified were responded to. In several instances, the benefits identified were seen, on analysis, to inherently hold solutions to the some of the challenges presented. The community gardens, as spaces of transformation and belonging and supported by research, could be demonstrating improved cultivation practices, supporting nutritional food security, providing incomes, as well as expanding the supply of alternative or supplementary resilient food resources into to the food system.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die ondersoek dui daarop dat die voordele van inheemse kosse in Suid-Afrika nog nie ten volle benut is nie en dat daar groot toekomstigde voordele is vir die Suid-Afrikaanse voedselstelsel en voedselsekuriteit, indien die voordele van inheemse plante gebruik word. Daarom is die doel van die ondersoek om die literatuur te verken, deur die gebruik van relevante soek kriteria en databasisse van onderbenutte inheemse gewasse en kosse in Afrika en in die buiteland (insluitend Oceania, Suid-Amerika en Asie) en om verder ´n omvattende oorsig te bied van sowel die litratuur en die gapings daarin, met betrekking tot die omgewing, voedingswaarde en die sosiaal-kulturele voordele en uitdagings van inheemse plante. Die resultate wys dat dit nodig is om die waarde van inheemse kosse te erken as a sleutel element wat kos- en voedingsekuriteit meebring om die volle voordele van inheemse kosse te benut. Die hoof-uitdagings sluit onder meer in dat mense nie inheemse kosse na volle waarde skat nie, en gevolglik ontbreek kennis oor hierde kosse, hoe om hul te kweek/verbou en hoe om hul te versorg. Dit skep ‘n kennisgaping wat beduidend is van een geslag na die volgende. Die tweede artikel (gevallestudie) handel oor die ontluikende gemeenskapstuine in die Wes-Kaap waar inheemse kosse in die tuine gebruik word en wat as ´n voorbeeld dien van die verbouing en benutting van inheemse kosse. Die gemeenskapstuine was gebruik as ´n gevallestudie om deur middel van semi-gestruktureerde onderhoude, inligting te versamel waardeur die voordele en uitdagings van die verskillende akteurs, wat direk en indirek interaksie het met die tuine, ge-interpreteer kan word. Die voordele het die uitdagings beduidend oortref. Die voordele sluit in die heraansluiting van mense met hulle herkoms, die bewusmaking van die waarde van inheemse kosse en dat baie glo dat inheemse kosse ‘n hoër voedigingswaarde as eksotiesse kosse besit. Uitdagings wat die meeste voorgekom het was ‘n gebrek aan kennis om die kosse korrek te identifiseer, ‘n gebrek aan kennis oor die hierdie kosse in die algemeen en onvoldoende voedingswaarde gebasseerde toetsing van inheemse kosse. Daarenteen lei die voordele na n alternatiewe vir, of ‘n aanvulling tot die huidige voedselstelsel, wat transformatiewe geleenthede bied vir alternatiewe kosse om gekweek te word en ook gebruik te kan word om voedsame voedselsekuriteit te bewerkstellig. Die rol van inheemse kosse bewerkstellig wel die heraansluiting van mense met hul herkoms, maar daar is n duidelike behoefte vir meer inligting en kennis om hierdie verbintenis te versterk. Die gebrek aan kennis van inheemse kosse benadruk juis die belangrikheid van kennis oor die kwaliteit van voedsaamheid van hierdie kosse. Verder is daar die etiese oorwegings betreffende die bemarking van inheemse kosse en die groter aanvraag daarna naamlik, wat sal voortaan gebeur met die bewakers van die kennis en die heiligheid van die kulture wat hierdie kosse bly gebruik en ondersteun. Hierdie laaste oorwegings bevat ook voorstelle vir toekomstige navorsing om die inheemse kosse verder te ondersoek en antwoorde te verskaf ten opsigte van die leemtes/kennisgapings wat genoem is.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/103597
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