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Impact of commercialization of indigenous crops on household food security of smallholder farmers in Limpopo Mpumalanga provinces, South Africa.

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Indigenous crops have been the main source of food for many rural communities. However, colonial economies and post-independence development systems placed greater emphasis on the production and consumption of cash crops, introduced foods that led to the displacement of indigenous food crops and caused subsequent changes in the diet of African people. Due to increasing consumer awareness of the dietary importance of indigenous crops, their demand is increasing with some consumers indicating a greater willingness to pay premium prices. This study estimated the impact of commercialization of indigenous crops on household food security of smallholder indigenous crops farmers in the Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces. The study was conducted in Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces. A sample of 209 indigenous crop producers was drawn out of 1520 analysable sample sizes of the total number of smallholder farmers. In analysing factors influencing the decisions and extent of indigenous crops farmers to participate in the market, a household commercialization index (HCI) was used to estimate the commercialization level of the indigenous crops farmers and subsequently, a double-hurdle with fractional response model was employed to estimate the factors influencing the decision of indigenous crops’ farmers to participate in the market (first stage) while fractional response model (FRM) with quasi-maximum likelihood was employed to assess the extent of market participation in the second stage. The results showed that off-farm income, gender, a family with an HIV infected person as well as market information access influenced the farmer’s decision to participate in the market. Market access and household size on the other hand influenced the extent of commercialization. It was then recommended that much support and attention should be provided to women’s involvement in the market participation. Also, the government together with other stakeholders need to channel their support towards these smallholder farmers through organising cooperatives within them. Furthermore, the study evaluated the impact of the commercialization of indigenous crops on the household food security of smallholder farmers. The descriptive analysis, Household Food Insecurity Access Scale (HFIAS) and Poisson regression model (with endogenous treatment model) were used to analyse the findings of the study. It was revealed that extension services, marital status, household size and a member living with HIV positively influenced the household food security of smallholder farmers and were significant. It was concluded that there is still an improvement and a lot of work to be done to diminish the escalating number of food insecure smallholder farmers. Furthermore, it was recommended that the government should intervene through the provision of trained extension officers so that they can assist smallholder farmers to overcome their challenges. Policymakers should develop policies that primarily represent the interests of smallholder household food security of smallholder farmers since the current policies make little mention of the impact that indigenous crops’ commercialization has on their food security status. The participation of smallholder farmers in the marketing of produce can play a critical role in meeting their goals such as food and nutrition security, poverty alleviation and sustainable agriculture. This study found that the market participation and sales ratio of smallholder indigenous crop farmers are constrained by numerous factors, such as socioeconomic, market and institutional factors. The commercialization of the indigenous crop for smallholder farmers in the market was affected by gender, educational level, off-farm income, agricultural information, and a member being infected by HIV. The household size and market access were found to highly influence the extent of commercialization among the smallholder indigenous vegetable farmers. To fully realize the optimum contribution of indigenous crops to household food and nutrition security, support from the stakeholders must be geared towards the smallholder indigenous farmers through the provision of farm training for an effective and efficient grasp of agricultural and marketing information. To improve smallholder farmers’ access to markets, the government also needs to ensure that their support for the production of indigenous crops is timely and well-targeted to upscale its production for consumption and commercialization. Where possible, the government and other stakeholders need to channel their support through organized cooperatives that exist within the smallholder farmers. Much attention and support need to be given to women’s involvement in market participation, and they also need to be empowered by the government and other interested stakeholders to participate fully in the decision making relating to the price of their produce and where to sell it. More workshops especially for young people and women need to be conducted in rural areas to raise awareness on the nutritional importance of indigenous crops and the need to include these indigenous crops into South Africa’s dietary guidelines. Keywords: Indigenous crops; commercialization index; household food security; HCI; Double-Hurdle, Fractional Response model.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.