The prevalence of use and value of wild edible herbs in South Africa

Shackleton, C.M. (2003) The prevalence of use and value of wild edible herbs in South Africa. South African Journal of Science, 99 (1 & 2). pp. 23-25. ISSN 0038-2353




The prevalence of use and commercial value of wild edible herbs in South Africa is examined from four recent quantitative studies at eight different sites. The use of wild edible herbs was widespread in rural communities, with over 90% of households using them in all but one sample site. Mean frequency of use in season was generally between two and five times per week, with a mean of four times across all sites. But many households consume them daily. Use in winter was less than in summer. The mass of wild edible herbs consumed ranged from 12 kg to over 130 kg per household per year. Local (farm-gate) prices ranged from R2.65 to R72 per kilogram, but were generally between R30 and R40 per kg. Direct-use value to consuming households ranged from R85 to almost R5000 across the eight sites, with a mean of R1020 per user household per year. Although harvesting of wild herbs takes time, the high gross direct-use value represents a considerable saving on having to purchase commercial alternatives. Key species differ from place to place both in availability and use, and include both indigenous and exotic species. Commonly used genera include Amaranthus, Bidens, Chenopodium, Cleome, Corchorus, and Momordica. The use, value and trade in wild edible herbs currently receives no recognition in land and agrarian reform policies. It is imperative that this be addressed, and the relationships between rural livelihoods, use of wild edible herbs, food security, and land and resource tenure be clarified, and debated within the policy forums around different models for, and delivery of, agrarian reform and rural development.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:Research in Action
Uncontrolled Keywords:wild edible herbs; South Africa; rural communities;
Subjects:Y Unknown > Subjects to be assigned
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Science > Environmental Science
ID Code:333
Deposited By: Mrs Eileen Shepherd
Deposited On:16 Oct 2006
Last Modified:06 Jan 2012 16:17
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