Mopane worms and household food security in the Limpopo Province, South Africa.
Oppong, Beatrice Bosompemaa.
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The main objective of this study is to examine the potential contribution of households’ involvement in mopane worm activities (harvesting, commercialisation and consumption) to households’ food security in the Mopani District of the Limpopo Province. Data was collected using a structured questionnaire from a stratified sample of 120 households, 60 of which are mopane worm harvesters. The Binary Logit Model was used to determine households’ socio-economic factors affecting participation in mopane worm harvesting. The results revealed that gender of the household head, age of the respondent, households’ size and the level of income per month increases the probability of households participating in mopane worm harvesting whilst distance to the market and food expenditure as well as religion (belonging to the Zion Christian Church) decreased the probability of being mopane worm harvester. The Ordinary Least Square (OLS) model was used to identify households’ socio-economic factors that determine the rate of commercialisation of mopane worms within harvesting households. 53 percent of the households commercialized their harvest. The model identified that gender, harvesting experience and income from mopane worm sales are the main factors determining commercialisation within harvesting households. The Household Food Insecurity Access Scale (HFIAS) was used to determine household food security status. The result revealed that about 20 percent of the harvesters were food secure, while 80 percent where food insecure. In addition, about 12 percent of the non-harvesters were food secured. An OLS model was also used to examine the impact of mopane worms in the food security status of the households in the Limpopo Province. The results revealed that age, education level of a household head, level of income, income from mopane worm sales and frequency of consuming mopane worm/day improve the food security status of households whilst households’ size and the distance to the market worsens the food security status of the households. The study found that about 48 to 60 percent of the households to be adopting less pervasive strategies like asking neighbours/family relatives for help, borrowing money for food and selling mopane worms for cash to protect their food consumption and over 70 percent adopted strategies like reducing food intake, portion size and eating less preferred food were adopted to modify their food consumption. The findings indicated that policy priorities should be focused on the promotion of harvesters associations for collective marketing and creating an enabling environment for sustainable harvesting and commercialisation.
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