Rural Women Agriculturalists Interfacing Indigenous and Other Post-harvest Technologies for Food Safety in South Africa

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Zamakhuzeni Zikala


While the role of women in agricultural production systems has been generally acknowledged in literature their associated indigenous knowledge and practices tend to be undervalued.  Research has shown that despite the socio-economic and climatic challenges they face, women agriculturalists have the potential to improve the health status of their families through enhanced nutritive value of their agricultural products. This is especially due to their wide-ranging roles and use of indigenous knowledge in the postharvest process which comprise of interconnected activities from the time of harvest through crop processing, marketing and food preparation, to the consumer.  Since postharvest handling directly contributes to food safety and quality the study uses case studies Zululand District in KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa to demonstrate women’s indigenous knowledge, practice and innovation in postharvest processes.  The study reveals that indigenous postharvest handling strategies were used to maintain and modify nutritive value and ensure food safety.  It was also shown that interfacing indigenous postharvest practices with modern technologies presents an opportunity to vulnerable groups such as women and children in Zululand district for overall public health.

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