Measuring the impact of crop production on household food security in KwaZulu-Natal using the coping strategies index (CSI)
Ngidi, Mjabuliseni Simon C.
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Crop production is widely promoted as a solution to food insecurity, but its real impact on household food security has not been measured in South Africa. Small-scale production is a common practice for many rural poor households of South Africa. While agriculture may play a major role in reducing food insecurity, agricultural growth alone cannot solve the problem of food insecurity at household level. South Africa is food secure at the national level, but available data suggest that between 58.5 and 73 percent of South African households experience food insecurity. This study set out to measure the impact of crop production on household food security among sampled households in two communal regions, Umbumbulu and Maphephetheni, of KwaZulu-Natal, to establish whether participation in food production improved household food security. Household surveys which explored the types of crops produced, food consumed, income obtained from crop sales and the food security situation, were carried out at Umbumbulu and Maphephetheni respectively (n = 200 and n = 68). The types of crops produced were investigated using crop production seasonality charts, while the household food security situation was measured using the Coping Strategy Index tool. The main findings of the study indicated that household gardens provided food for household members, but did not provide sufficient quantities to meet year-round consumption requirements. Most sampled households relied largely on purchased foods. More than 80% of the food consumed by households came from purchases, 4% and 13% came from own production in Umbumbulu and Maphephetheni respectively. Among the households surveyed, 58% and 89% were below the poverty line for Umbumbulu and Maphephetheni respectively. Umbumbulu and Maphephetheni’s largest household income contributions came from wages or salaries. Social grants were the second most important source of household income. As participation in crop production alleviated food shortages somewhat, its contribution to food security cannot be ignored. A study needs to be conducted to investigate whether participation in both farm/non farm activities reduces the number of households below the poverty line. Government should provide extension officers to monitor and evaluate the impact of gardens on household food security. To guide the design and implementation of commercial and home gardens, households need to develop clear and consistent policies, strategies, processes and procedures, and (a sound) monitoring and evaluation framework.
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