Review

An overview of indigenous crop development by the Mpumalanga Department of Agriculture and Land Administration (DALA)

Published in: South African Journal of Plant and Soil
Volume 27, issue 4, 2010 , pages: 337–340
DOI: 10.1080/02571862.2010.10640005
Author(s): C. MathewsDepartment of Agriculture and Land Administration (DALA),

Abstract

Indigenous as well as indigenized crops form part of the daily diet of the smallholder and developing farmers in the Mpumalanga province. Developmental efforts by national research institutes on these crops under smallholder environments have been negligible in the past due to the subsistence nature of these crops. The Mpu-malanga provincial department of agriculture, therefore, initiated programmes to improve productivity of these crops with the objectives of enhancing household food security and sustainability. This paper provides an overview on the potential, production constraints and the efforts taken by DALA to improve productivity of a few popular crops. Identification of improved varieties was given priority so as to minimize financial burden in terms of input costs to farmers in adopting improved technologies. Although several improved varieties have been identified by DALA in the past, these are not widely used by farmers due to the absence of institutionalized arrangement to produce and distribute seeds. Crop failure, coupled with nutritional inadequacies of the maize-based diet, lead to about 50% of the smallholder farming households living in conditions of severe poverty and malnutrition. Almost all of these households collect and utilize a number of wild plants or leafy vegetables to enhance food security. There is a great need to identify diversity of indigenous crops in terms of species, economic importance and consumption patterns as such studies have not been carried out in Mpumalanga so far. Furthermore, efforts need to be made to develop improved production packages for economically important species and to provide appropriate support facilities in terms of inputs, marketing and value adding.

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