The mass production of South Africa’s indigenous fruit and vegetables can go a long way in helping to eradicate poverty, according to experts attending the Indigenous Knowledge System Expo in Durban. Around 20 types of indigenous fruit have been identified in South Africa, many of which have been found to possess larger amounts of vitamins and minerals than common fruits sold in markets, according to Rosemary Du Preez.
Du Preez works in the field of development agriculture and is responsible for the agricultural component of a large programme introducing high value crops such as fruit trees and essential oils. The project is active in 52 rural villages with 2000 participating households in the Eastern Cape and Limpopo.
During her presentation at the expo, she said that in addition to job creation, which would in turn tackle poverty issues around the country, the cultivation of indigenous fruit would lead to the search and identification for alternative crops.
Biologist Carina Malherbe supported the need for development of indigenous products on the basis that South Africa is the third most biological diverse country after Indonesia and Brazil.
Malherbe, who has been tasked with managing and conserving indigenous resources, said unfortunately the commercialising indigenous produce was tied up in red tape.
There are laws in South Africa that regulate bioprospecting and people living in rural areas are not well versed in the legislation. This puts them on an unequal footing in negotiations with other stakeholders.
Malherbe urged government to give rural communities assistance in this regard and more clarity on some aspects of the law.