Utilisation of traditional and indigenous foods in the North West Province of South Africa
Matenge, Sarah Tshepho Pona
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AIM AND OBJECTIVES The main aim of this thesis was to explore the possibilities of promoting the cultivation, utilisation and consumption of indigenous and traditional plant foods (ITPF) among urban and rural communities in the North West Province of South Africa that could possibly lead to increased IK and dietary diversity. The objectives were the following: Assess consumption of TLV in the rural and urban communities. Compare nutritional status of consumers and non-consumers of TLV using data obtained from the Prospective Urban and Rural Epidemiology (PURE-SA) study. Assess the availability, cultivation and consumption patterns of ITPF. Assess indigenous knowledge (IK) within the rural and urban communities. Assess consumers’ views of ITPF in the rural and urban communities. Assess consumers’ acceptance of, preference for and consumption intent of dishes made from cowpea leaves. To compile recipes for the most important ITPF commonly consumed in the study areas in order to promote the cultivation and consumption of ITPF (see Addendum D). STUDY DESIGN Health profile study: For the health profile study, a comparative study was conducted on the baseline data of the population that participated in the PURE-SA study (1004 urban and 1006 rural participants) which follows the health transition in urban and rural subjects over a 12 year period. The baseline data for the North West Province of South Africa were collected from October to December 2005. Utilisation of ITPF study: The study on the utilisation of ITPF used a sequential explanatory study design which involved the collection of quantitative and qualitative data and analyses. The consumer acceptance study consisted of an explorative and experimental phase. Participants were male and female, aged older than 20, residing in the selected communities and knowledgeable on the indigenous and traditional foods of the area. METHODS A variety of quantitative and qualitative research techniques were used. Data were generated through questionnaires, focus groups and individual - and group interviews. Health profile study: Demographic characteristics and frequency of consumption of TLV data were collected by the researcher from 396 randomly selected subjects from participating subjects in the PURE-SA study. An extensive nutritional profile of these subjects was compiled including blood samples, blood pressure, anthropometric measurements and total dietary intake by means of a quantitative food frequency questionnaire. Utilisation of ITPF study: A comparative study was conducted in rural and urban populations of the North West Province. Data were collected by the researcher using a questionnaire (n=396 households), key informant interviews (n=4), and four focus groups. Consumer study: Four focus groups were conducted by the researcher, two in rural and two in urban communities, to investigate consumers’ views about ITPF. Eighty-seven participants were recruited based on a specific purpose rather than randomly. Consumers’ acceptance of, preference for and intended consumption of products made with cowpea leaves were assessed. A 5-point hedonic scale and a 7-point food action rating scale were used for sensory evaluation. RESULTS Health profile study: As expected, rural inhabitants were more likely to consume TLV. However, no household reported to consume TLV more than ten times a month. Factors such as price (affordability) and availability and easy-to-get-to points of purchase were found to be major constraints in the consumption of TLV, especially in urban communities. Urban respondents had significantly higher macronutrient intakes than rural subjects. There was no significant difference between the selected micronutrient intakes between consumers and non-consumers of TLV. Non-consumers of TLV had higher blood lipid levels than consumers from both the rural and urban areas. In the urban subjects the relative risk to develop high blood pressure was higher in non-consumers of TLV than in the consumers. However, the risk ratios of raised serum cholesterol and triglycerides were not significantly different. Utilisation of ITPF study: More plant foods were available and consumed in the rural area than the urban area. However, fewer species were available than expected due to insufficient rainfall, poor soil quality, deforestation and over harvesting. Consumption of indigenous foods was influenced by price, culture, seasonality/availability, accessibility and diversity in markets. A lack of markets for indigenous crops, insufficient rainfall and diseases and pests were cited as the major cultivation problems, followed by a lack of capital to buy farming implements, veld fires and poor soil quality. Consumer study: Based on the qualitative focus group discussions, factors that influence the consumption of ITPF were identified. These factors included benefits and barriers of ITPF consumption. Ways to increase ITFP consumption were also identified. Health and nutrition; tradition and culture; and food safety emerged as drivers for ITPF consumption. A lack of knowledge and skills of food preparation and negative images and unfamiliarity of ITPF acted as barriers. Differences in views existed between older and younger consumers. In general younger consumers found ITF rather revolting and undesirable, humiliating to consume. Sensory evaluation of food samples for the pooled data of the total study population showed that significant differences existed between the acceptability of all attributes, overall acceptance and consumption intent. Socio-demographic backgrounds such as place of residence (urban or rural), levels of education and age were shown to influence the acceptability of food samples and consumption intent. There was no positive association between acceptability of food and gender. CONCLUSIONS Health profile study: This study showed the possibility of beneficial effects of rural diets, however, the lack of knowledge concerning the bioavailability of nutrients from TLV and lack of information on food consumption database, of these vegetables constitute main barriers to obtaining information on nutrient intake. The low frequency of consumption of TLV is of concern. Taking into consideration safe agricultural practices, the promotion of TLV might be a solution towards healthier diets and combating poverty. More research is needed to investigate the health effects of these vegetables. Utilisation of ITPF study: It is evident that there was a limited number of ITPF species cultivated and consumed. Consumers, especially older people, were found to possess extensive knowledge regarding the availability of ITPF species, their habitat and uses, seasonality and potential health benefits. There is a need to intensify education on conservation of natural resources and more studies should be undertaken to document and disseminate traditional food systems. In addition, there is a need to integrate existing health and nutrition interventions with traditional food promotion. Consumer study: The results highlighted the importance of making use of a mixed method approach which made it possible not only to identify factors that influence the consumption of ITPF but also to understand the dynamics thereof from focus group discussions and how they influence acceptability, preference and consumption intent. Important benefits (drivers) of and barriers to ITPF consumption as well as suggestions on how to increase ITPF consumption were identified. Barriers to ITPF consumption and low scores of acceptability provided by younger participants can be connected to misconceptions about ITPF and lack of familiarity with the products. Therefore, a combination of strategies aimed at enhancing individual awareness of the health benefits of ITPF, decreasing barriers and conducting more acceptability studies may have a positive impact on the younger segment of the population.
- Health Sciences