The impact of winter production of traditional vegetables on household food security: A case study of river bed alluvial deposits traditional gardens in Hwange District, Matabeleland North Province.

Author: Mpala, Canisius

Traditional vegetables have been consumed by many rural communities for centuries and have a potential to contribute to household food security by providing direct access to readily accessible nutritious food and income. The availability of fresh vegetables is however seasonal but local communities in Hwange have made it an all year round activity. To assess the production and availability of the traditional vegetables, a survey was conducted in July to November 2013 in Nekatambe Ward of Hwange District. The study was aimed at identifying and assessing the indigenous production systems, consumption and the role of traditional vegetables in income generation, food security and livelihoods of the households. Data was collected through focus group discussions, field observations and questionnaire surveys on forty households. Results showed that traditional vegetables were produced in abundance in winter so that households had vegetables all year round. The winter vegetables are cultivated in the alluvial deposits in river beds. The traditional vegetables are produced organically using manure, organic pest control and intercropping with no inorganic fertilisers. Basin irrigation is used for watering. 47% of the respondents make over US$150 per month from the sale of vegetables. Marketing is informal and some vegetables are sold through barter and trade. Income generated is used to buy non food items and invested in small livestock. Information on agronomy, nutritive value and methods of preparation that minimise nutrient leaching is scarce among the communities