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Mainstreaming Underutilized Indigenous and Traditional Crops into Food Systems: A South African Perspective

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Centre for Transformative Agricultural and Food Systems, School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, P. Bag X01, Scottsville 3209, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
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Soil, Crop and Climate Sciences, University of the Free State P.O Box 339, Bloemfontein 9300, South Africa
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Plant Soil and Microbial Sciences Department, Michigan State University, 1066 Bogue St A286, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA
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School of Life Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, P. Bag X01, Scottsville 3209, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
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Centre for Food Policy, City University of London, Northampton Square, London EC1V 0HB, UK
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Department of Genetics, Evolution & Environment, University College, London WC1E 6BT, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2019, 11(1), 172; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11010172
Received: 30 September 2018 / Revised: 13 December 2018 / Accepted: 24 December 2018 / Published: 31 December 2018
Business as usual or transformative change? While the global agro-industrial food system is credited with increasing food production, availability and accessibility, it is also credited with giving birth to ‘new’ challenges such as malnutrition, biodiversity loss, and environmental degradation. We reviewed the potential of underutilized indigenous and traditional crops to bring about a transformative change to South Africa’s food system. South Africa has a dichotomous food system, characterized by a distinct, dominant agro-industrial, and, alternative, informal food system. This dichotomous food system has inadvertently undermined the development of smallholder producers. While the dominant agro-industrial food system has led to improvements in food supply, it has also resulted in significant trade-offs with agro-biodiversity, dietary diversity, environmental sustainability, and socio-economic stability, especially amongst the rural poor. This challenges South Africa’s ability to deliver on sustainable and healthy food systems under environmental change. The review proposes a transdisciplinary approach to mainstreaming underutilized indigenous and traditional crops into the food system, which offers real opportunities for developing a sustainable and healthy food system, while, at the same time, achieving societal goals such as employment creation, wellbeing, and environmental sustainability. This process can be initiated by researchers translating existing evidence for informing policy-makers. Similarly, policy-makers need to acknowledge the divergence in the existing policies, and bring about policy convergence in pursuit of a food system which includes smallholder famers, and where underutilized indigenous and traditional crops are mainstreamed into the South African food system. View Full-Text
Keywords: agro-ecology biodiversity; climate resilience; health agro-ecology biodiversity; climate resilience; health
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Mabhaudhi, T.; Chibarabada, T.P.; Chimonyo, V.G.P.; Murugani, V.G.; Pereira, L.M.; Sobratee, N.; Govender, L.; Slotow, R.; Modi, A.T. Mainstreaming Underutilized Indigenous and Traditional Crops into Food Systems: A South African Perspective. Sustainability 2019, 11, 172.

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