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Value chain analysis and determinants of production and consumption of African leafy vegetables in Limpopo Province of South Africa.

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There has been a decline in the production, utilization and diversity of African leafy vegetables (ALVs) such as cowpea leaves, pumpkin leaves, amaranth, collard greens, mustard greens, etc., which poses a threat to the status of food security and development in the sub-Saharan region. Research has shown that ALVs have high market potential and contribute substantially to household incomes, food security, health and nutrition. However, the scientific and donor communities often give less attention to research on, and development of, these crops. This study focuses on the commercial production of ALVs, a relatively new economic activity, in the Limpopo Province of South Africa that may assist rural, small-scale farmers to diversify, improving their economic independence and livelihoods. In attempting to provide an impetus to the ALV industry, the South African government currently offers free training in ALV production, extension services, free high quality seed, free fertilizers and pesticides. Considering the geographical suitability and the magnitude of investment made towards the ALV development programme, there is a need to understand consumer behaviour towards ALVs, and why many farmers are not participating in the industry. There has also been limited research so far on the challenges and opportunities in producing, value adding, and marketing of ALVs in South Africa. This study is, therefore, an attempt to address these knowledge gaps. It also provides an opportunity to draw relevant policy and management implications to inform future strategies in the industry. Given this background, the specific objectives of the study were to: (i) analyse the value chain of ALVs in Limpopo Province; (ii) examine the factors influencing households’ participation decision in the production of ALVs in Limpopo Province; (iii) determine the factors influencing consumers’ purchasing decisions and expenditure levels for ALVs; and (iv) determine socioeconomic and perception factors affecting willingness-to-pay. To analyse the value chain of ALVs in the Limpopo Province of South Africa, prominent value chain actors, institutions governing the chain, infrastructural endowments, key factors and challenges affecting the success or failure of the value chains, were identified. Relationships among the value chain actors were weak, with transactions based primarily on spot markets. While smallholder farmers producing ALVs attain high gross margins, their intention to participate in mainstream markets is impeded by lack of technical knowledge of production, lack of packaging and processing services, poor infrastructure, deficient contractual agreements vi between actors, and lack of access to finance. Although producers currently attain relatively high gross margins, more benefits might be realized if government services (such as training, seed production and distribution) could either be decentralized or privatized. Future policy interventions should focus on promoting value addition along the ALV chain, including the provision of cold storage facilities by municipalities closer to smallholder farmers in the rural areas to stabilize farm gate prices to encourage continuation of production. A double-hurdle model that accounts for whether or not smallholder farmers produce ALVs (decision to participate) and how much land was allocated for ALV production (level of participation) was used to examine the factors influencing households’ participation decision in the production of ALVs in the Limpopo Province. Participation and level of participation decisions were analysed using cross-sectional data collected from 126 smallholder farmers in 2013. The empirical results suggest that factors explaining participation decision and level of participation are different. Hence, it is imperative that policies that are aimed at incentivising both participation and level of participation and their impacts on food security and nutrition target different groups of people. Furthermore, the commercialisation of ALVs could also promote rural development in the study area. Factors influencing consumers’ decisions to purchase ALVs in the Limpopo Province were also examined using the double-hurdle model as it accounts for whether or not consumers purchase ALVs and how much they spend on these vegetables. The decision to purchase and the level of expenditure were analysed using cross-sectional data collected from 299 urban and rural households during 2012. The results show that perception factors (such as nutrition) and some socio-economic factors (such as gender, education, marriage and urbanization) influence only purchasing decisions, while other factors such as age and distance to the market influence only the level of expenditure on ALVs. In addition, other perception (perception that ALVs are a relish, tasty and affordable) and socio-economic (dependency on social grants) factors influenced both the purchasing decision and the level of expenditure. Interventions that promote value addition of ALVs through sorting, packaging and processing by commercial processors that reduces pre-cooking preparation time and increases storage can encourage young, male, urban and educated consumers to purchase ALVs. Furthermore, awareness-raising programmes about the nutrition and health benefits of ALVs on media (such as local and national radio and television stations and social media in locally understood languages), might promote the consumption of ALVs by educated and urban households. vii Socio-economic and perception factors influencing willingness-to-pay (WTP) for ALVs were also determined. Cross-sectional data were collected from 299 randomly selected households using a contingent valuation questionnaire. The descriptive results revealed that almost 80 percent of respondents would be willing to pay a premium for ALVs. An Ordered Probit model was applied for identification of households’ socioeconomic and perception factors that influence WTP. WTP was found to be mainly a function of socio-economic factors, namely gender, urbanization, age, distance to the market, tastes/preferences and availability of ALVs throughout the year. Smallholder farmers of ALVs, plant breeders, marketers and policy makers are encouraged to develop efficient production and marketing strategies. This, in turn, provides a means of improving food security and livelihoods, especially in support of the poor, rural, smallholder farmers. The study recommends the empowerment of smallholder households and the youth with productive resources such as extension services, technical support and a more secure land tenure system to improve their livelihoods. The commercialisation of ALVs could promote rural development in the study area, as ALVs are indigenous to Limpopo. Understanding the nature of these constraints and how they can possibly be alleviated is very important from a policy perspective, as this process will inform the formulation of improved market access strategies. The study also recommends a strategic awareness campaign to influence the behaviour of producers and consumers and nutrition education to increase knowledge and awareness of the nutritional value of ALVs. Further recommendations are also made towards institutionalising and strengthening collective marketing under different options, which reflect producers’ socioeconomic status and the prevailing institutional and policy environment in Limpopo Province.


Doctor of Philosophy in Agricultural Economics.University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg. e .