An exploration of the consumption, cultivation and trading of indigenous leafy vegetables in rural communities in the greater Tubatse local municipality, Limpopo province, South Africa
Indigenous leafy vegetables (ILVs) have been found to be as good as conventional vegetables to provide essential nutrients to sustain human health. Hence, the objective of this study was to investigate the consumption, cultivation and trading of ILVs in rural communities. A cross-sectional survey was conducted and data were collected from 854 respondents representing 854 randomly selected households. Data collection was conducted by using a questionnaire designed specifically for this study, through personal interviews with respondents. Up to 72.8% of the households were located in rural settlements as opposed to about 24.5% in urban areas, with only about 2.7% in informal settlements. 58% of respondents' households had more than three members per household, whereas 24% of households had two members per household. 92% of respondents indicated that they consumed indigenous leafy vegetables because they were cheap (35%), healthy and nutritious (29%), easily available (22%) and tasty (8%). Up to 66% of respondents did not cultivate ILVs as they felt that there was no need to, because they grew in the wild. Jute (Corchorus spp), lerotho (Cleome gynandra), mokopu (Cucurbita maxima) and thepe (Amaranthus thunbergii) were the most consumed ILVs in this region. However, most of the few who cultivated ILVs, sold them to generate income. The consumption and cultivation of ILVs has the potential to improve food security and boost income generation in households in rural communities. It is recommended that relevant governmental and non-governmental bodies should ensure the availability of ILV seeds and educate households on the ways to cultivate, preserve, prepare and consume ILVs.