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Indigenous vegetables and access to markets: a study of rural women farmers in Senanga, Zambia.

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General agriculture, fishing and small business enterprises are the most prominent economic activities in Senanga, a district located on the Western part of Zambia (Central Statistics Office 2010). However, in the recent years, cultivation of indigenous vegetables by rural women has both increased and gradually become a source of livelihood in Senanga. It is from this backdrop that this dissertation employs the food sovereignty framework to examine the cultivation of indigenous vegetables and rural farmers’ access to markets in Senanga. It also draws on the food security literature, Sustainable Livelihoods Approach (SLA) and the agro-ecological approach to analyse indigenous vegetable farming in developing countries. With the aid of data collection instruments such as participant observation, transect walk and in-depth interviews conducted with 11 female farmers, five traders and five agricultural officers, the study investigates the production of indigenous vegetables in Senanga. I also examine women’s access to local, national and international markets and how they maintain business relationships with these markets. The dissertation also evaluates the role of the public and private sector in indigenous vegetable farming. From the views and experiences of the research participants, socio-economic factors such as high unemployment rates, growing demand for indigenous vegetables and access to resources emerge as factors that motivate farmers in Senanga to engage in indigenous vegetable farming. This has helped farmers increase their households’ food security and income. It has also improved their access to social services and other agriculture inputs. On the other hand, gender bias and limited recognition of indigenous vegetables by public and private sector, socio-economic factors such as lack of agricultural skills and financial resources are identified as factors that hamper indigenous vegetable production and farmers’ access to markets in Senanga. Equally, the research findings show that gender stereotypes and sociocultural factors such as discriminatory gender roles, cultural rigidity, customary land laws and dependence syndrome also contribute to low production of indigenous vegetable in Senanga. In addition, the dissertation discusses strategies such as adequate provision of agricultural services and training in agro-ecological approaches to food production by government and NGOs, increased women’s participation in the formulation of agricultural policies if implemented might improve indigenous vegetable farming in Senanga.


Master’s Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.