Change in soy and nutrition knowledge and perceptions of smallholder South African farmers after attending a single one day soy nutrition training workshop: A pilot study
The main aim of this pilot study was to assess smallholder soy farmers’ knowledge and perceptions of soy immediately before and after participating in a one-day soy nutrition training workshop. A pre-post study design was used among a convenience sample of 78
soy smallholder farmers from KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa (SA). A total of 78 men and five women participated in the training, but because only five women attended, gender comparison analysis was not carried out. A soy nutrition training workshop, including soy cooking demonstrations, tasting, recipe development, that is based on the Social Cognitive Theory, was implemented for eight consecutive hours with one break of 30 minutes. Pre- and post-quantitative data measuring,soy knowledge and perceptions were
collected using a modified version of a survey, tested for face and content validity and reliability, and used previously in other research study projects by the same authors among low-resource communities in SA. The data from the pre and post questionnaires indicated that only 41% of the soy smallholder farmers used soy in the household and mainly in meat dishes. The rest of the harvested soy was either sold or used for animal feed. The mean±standard deviation (SD) score of taste preference changed significantly (p=0.002) from 4.60±0.84 before, to 4.93±0.13 after the training (p=0.002) and the majority of the participants perceived it was easy to prepare soy foods; 82.1% and 88.5% before and after the training, respectively (p=0.013). Participants’ soy knowledge improved significantly (p<0.001) from a mean± (SD) score of 26.33±4.06 before to 32.00±9.46 after the intervention, indicating a significant improvement of 5.67±9.11 [13.83%] in the total score. The results from this study indicate that there is a need for nutrition education programs for smallholder farmers. Thus, improvement in both soy knowledge and preference should result in more soy being consumed first for household nutritional needs before giving it to either animals or sell it on the market. Since smallholder farmers’ nutrition education can impact both food insecurity and nutritional status improvement in one setting, more interventions of this kind are needed to further advance the frontier of this niche area of research.
Key words: nutrition education, smallholder famers, soy training, South Africa emerging farmers, Knowledge perception
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