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Analysing South African indigenous knowledge policy and its alignment to government's attempts to promote indigenous vegetables.

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The study was concerned with examining if DST policy on indigenous knowledge is aligned with practice on the ground. It focussed on understanding the formulation process of Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) policy enacted by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) in 2004. It also explored the implementation process of IKS policy by investigating the Agriculture Research Council (ARC) project funded by DST that promoted indigenous vegetables as a component of IKS. The first phase of the study was an investigation of the formulation of the 2004 IKS policy using FaircIough‘s critical discourse analysis method and a decolonial theoretical framework. The study revealed that the formulation of the DST‘s, IKS policy of 2004 involved the co-operation and participation of stakeholders from various backgrounds, including indigenous knowledge holders and practitioners. The policy formulation process included people from different backgrounds in order to recognise the diverse nature of the subject as well as to redress colonial tendencies that discriminate against IKS holders and practitioners in decision-making and benefitting from the knowledge and resources. Critical discourse analysis revealed the African Renaissance, the commodification of IKS, the integration of indigenous knowledge and science, and Equity as dominant discourses in the policy. The study shows how ‗naturalisation‘ of the above discourses in the IKS policy has tended to promote some IKS components while marginalising others. The second phase of the study employed a food sovereignty theoretical framework to investigate the practices, successes and challenges of the KwaMkhwanazi community in KwaZulu-Natal, where the ARC and the University of Zululand (UNIZULU) promoted indigenous vegetables. Food sovereignty analysis of the case study shows that indigenous vegetables (IVs) were promoted because of their many positive attributes, namely their high nutritional value, adaptation to adverse climate conditions, potential for income generation, and resistance to disease and pest. Small-scale farmers were shown as embracing indigenous vegetables and farming practices that enables them to be food secure. Small-scale famers were hindered by numerous challenges in attaining food sovereignty with the question of land shortage taking center stage. The study adds to the body of knowledge that reveals experiences of food sovereignty on the ground. It departs from previous investigations on IVs that predominantly examined the nutritional, medicinal and agronomical factors, instead, this study places IVs in the context of food politics, identity issues, and cultural and socio-economic factors. This study has implications for policy makers and small-scale farmers in their practices.


Doctor of Philosophy in Development Studies. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban 2016.


Vegetables - SA., Indigenous vegetables.