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Exploring the role of indigenous vegetables in rural livelihoods: Perceptions from the Ntuze community

Q.N. Qwabe
T. Pittawaty


An increasing number of countries face growing food insecurity levels, severely impacting rural livelihoods. South Africa is no exception, mainly because it meets the worst forms of socio-economic issues: the triple challenge of poverty, the inequality gap, and non-inclusive economic growth. Influenced by a growing number of people in underprivileged communities who face food poverty, the researchers bring to the fore the value of wild indigenous vegetation, which is often neglected and perceived as food for the poor. To articulate this, data was collected from participants who utilise indigenous vegetables. Among the themes that were inductively identified were (i) household food security, (ii) the perceived medicinal benefits to improve their health conditions, and (iii) the source of income. The study proposes that promoting the production and utilisation of indigenous vegetables be considered an approach to raising awareness to dismantle the stigma around these foods and to further respond to the food insecurity crisis in underprivileged communities. There is an underappreciation of local varieties such as imifino yasendle (wild leafy vegetables) and stigmatisation of utilisation of these foods. This study re-imagines a renewed perception of indigenous vegetation in the quest to contribute to livelihood development and improve food security in underprivileged communities.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2413-3221
print ISSN: 0301-603X