Investigating the indigenous postharvest technologies and practices used in smallholder farming systems, and their impact on food security: the case of Maqongqo, Mkhambathini Local Municipality, KwaZulu-Natal.
Ngubo, Wonder Ntokozo.
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The sustainability of indigenous knowledge and its use has remained a key challenge in many parts of the developing world. Through the review of substantial literature, the researcher has identified that the indigenous postharvest practices and technologies have not been adequately researched and documented to inform policy formulation and be shared with younger generations to ensure the sustainability of these postharvest practices and technologies. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate the Indigenous postharvest technologies and practices used in smallholder farming systems and their impact on household food security. The study had three specific objectives. The first objective was to identify the indigenous postharvest practices and technologies used in smallholder farming systems across different crop types. The second objective was to determine the factors that influence the use of indigenous postharvest practices and technologies. And the third and last objective was to identify the effects of using indigenous postharvest practices and technologies and their impact on household food security. This research study was limited to a group of smallholder farmers in Maqongqo. A total of 120 purposive participants participated in this study. Regarding research data collection, Participatory Rural Appraisal using one focus group discussion, semi-structured and unstructured interviews were held with all key informants, Household Food Insecurity Access Scale, direct observations, and surveys were used to collect essential data from the sample population. Descriptive statistics and correlation tests using Statistical Package for Social Sciences version 27 were used for data analysis to summarize and analyze the quantitative data. The responses from open-ended questions from the questionnaire and focus group discussions were analyzed to identify common themes. Results showed that indigenous postharvest practices and technologies were used mainly for processing, preparation of produce for storage, preserving crop harvest and protecting stored harvest from pests. The leading indigenous postharvest practices used are sun drying, winnowing, destalking, hand threshing, shelling and natural field storage. The main indigenous postharvest technologies used in Maqongqo were fibre bags, plastic buckets and cool dry areas, mainly the floor. Farming experience, age, familiarity of the indigenous postharvest practices and technologies, the confidence and faith in indigenous postharvest practices and technologies, and the consideration of preharvest factors has an influence on the use of indigenous postharvest practices and technologies. The use of indigenous postharvest practices and technologies in Maqongqo did not lead to the attainment of food security among smallholder farming households. It is essential to note that smallholder farmers in the current study had various livelihood sources of which all contributed towards their household food security, these sources included income from part-time and full-time employment, income from the sale of the surplus produce, social support grants and pensions. The use of indigenous postharvest practices and technologies on their own as a food security strategy is discouraged. Instead, the integration of modern and indigenous postharvest techniques and technologies is encouraged and recommended to account for the shortfalls of using indigenous postharvest practices and technologies to achieve food security among rural and urban farming households and ensure that the livelihoods of the rural poor are sustainable. Keywords: Food security, indigenous postharvest practices, indigenous postharvest technologies, smallholder farmer, postharvest losses, indigenous knowledge.