4.1. Food Security Status of the Participants
In the current study, the food insecurity parameters used were θ0
, and θ2
, which mean food insecurity incidence (headcount), depth, and severity, respectively (Table 3
). Food insecurity head count (θ0
) represents the proportion of household below the food security line [53
]. The current findings revealed a high degree of effectiveness by showing severity, depth, and incidence of food insecurity. The incidence of poverty (θ0
) was 0.4060, indicating that 40.60% of the participants were food insecure, while 59.40% were food secured (Table 3
). The value θ1
(poverty depth) among the rural participants was 0.1626, meaning that each household member would require 16.26% of the food insecurity line (R118.68) per day to be out of their present food insecurity status. The value θ2
(food insecurity severity) of the participants was 0.0869, indicating that the food insecurity severity of the participants was 8.69%. Additionally, an average core food insecure household would require about 8.69% of the food insecurity line to the households’ food budget in order move out of their severe food insecurity status. From the findings, it could be inferred that there is existence of food insecurity among the rural households in the study area. This is in line with previous findings that food remains inaccessible to approximately 26% of the population [27
] and confirms the assertions of existing literature [57
4.2. Food Insecurity Indices of Participants Based on Socio-Economic Characteristics
shows the socio-economic characteristics of the participants based on their food insecurity. Higher count (θ0
) indicates higher incidence of food insecurity, higher θ1
implies higher depth of food insecurity, and higher θ2
values implies higher food insecurity severity situation. In the study, food insecurity incidence decreased with age. The highest food insecurity incidence (63.63%) was among households headed by individuals aged 21–30 years. Highest depth (34.75%) and severity (22.37%) were also among households headed by individuals within this age group. This is possibly due to the fact that most participants in this age category are young and inexperienced. As a result, these individuals probably earn lesser or no income, which could translate into food shortage and food insecurity among their households [61
In the current study, incidence of food insecurity of 41.33% was higher among the female-headed households than the 40.35% found among their male counterparts. In addition, the female-headed households need 17.69% increase in daily per capita food expenditure in order to be food secure. This is against the 14.66% increase required by the male-headed households. This is in line with the existing findings that female-headed households tend to be poorer and more food insecure compared to male-headed households [62
In terms of marital status, single-headed households had the highest (48.28%) incidence of food insecurity, needing 20.37% in per capita food expenditure on a daily basis to be food secure. However, married counterparts recorded 46.81% food insecurity incidence and 18.71% depth, which means the married participants heading the household would require 18.71% of the food insecurity line (R118.68) per day to be considered as food secured. The current finding suggests the importance of marriage, as both partners might contribute to the food need of the family. Similarly, high rate of food insecurity among households headed by single individuals was observed among rural households in Nigeria [65
]. This finding indicates that married household heads have higher likelihood of being food secure than their single household head counterparts in the study area. In the current study, educational attainment of the household heads shows a high (52.17%) food insecurity incidence among degree holders. Similarly, participants with matric qualifications (high school graduates) also had 52.17% food insecurity incidence. However, the food insecurity depth percentage was different, as they would need 19.86% of the food insecurity line of this study to be food secure. There was higher food insecurity among degree holders in rural communities in the North West province of South Africa. This might be due to high level of unemployment in the country or due to location of the participants, which could invariably lead to poverty and food insecurity.
Relative to size, households with 5–8 members had higher (65.38%) incidences of food insecurity compared to smaller households (1–4 members) with 33.96% food insecurity incidence. This shows that a large household size could lead to food insecurity in the study area. A similar trend was also observed in other studies conducted in countries such as Ghana [39
] and Kenya [66
]. In addition, the occupation of the participants showed a food insecurity incidence of 49.02% and 20.95% depth for the entrepreneurs. This indicates a high food insecurity incidence among the entrepreneur categories among the selected communities. The report is also common among other occupational categories such as farmers, civil servants, and traditional healers. This reflects the economic vulnerability level of the household heads that are entrepreneurs, as diverse economic shocks do have adverse effects on their small scale business enterprises and profitability, thereby affecting the households’ food base in the study area.
The food insecurity incidence was highest with the participants with monthly income categories R5001–7000, having 66.66% food insecurity incidence and depth of 25.80%, which means that household heads within this monthly income category would need 25.80% of the food insecurity line (R118.68) per day to be food secure. This income category indicates a low income for households in such a category. This corroborates existing literature that low income leads to food insecurity, as such household heads have limited purchasing power [68
]. On the contrary, households with lower monthly incomes (R1000–3000 and R3001–5000) were more food secure, having 35.08% and 33.33% food insecurity incidence, respectively. This contradicts the apriori
expectation of this study. However, this might be due to the fact that lower income households adopt proper food insecurity coping mechanisms (e.g., scavenging, skipping of meals, borrowing, buying food in bulk, support from relatives and loved ones) that give them leverage over food insecurity and hence make them more food secure than the higher income households.
4.3. Factors Influencing Indigenous Plants Inclusion for Households’ Food Security
Binary logistic regression results show that the model fitted the data well, as shown by statistical significance of the chi2
< 0.01). In addition, the test for multicollinearity among the variables was conducted with variance inflation factor (VIF); the mean VIF of 1.25 was derived in the analysis. Moreover, the high levels of tolerance computed for the variables indicate statistical significance; therefore, the null hypothesis of the study was rejected in favour of the alternative hypothesis. The model used the different parameters for the households, including socioeconomic characteristics, indigenous plant consumption profile, and food security status, which was a binary variable with value 1 if participant was food secured and 0 otherwise. As shown in Table 5
, participants’ age was positive (0.04335) and significant (p
< 0.10). This indicates that age of the head of households has the likelihood of influencing the households’ food security status. This implies that older-headed households had a higher chance of being food secure. This may be due to the accrued experience with age for such households and that the majority of them were civil servants.
The current study indicates that the gender of head of the households was positive (1.02363) and significant (p
< 0.05), suggesting that a male-headed household had a higher probability of being food secure when compared with their female counterparts. This might be due to the fact that more males have higher income generating activities than their female counterparts. Oluwatayo [70
] reported that there are more food secure male-headed households when compared to female heads. In addition, the coefficient of the education status of the head of the households was positive (0.14116) and significant at (p
< 0.01), an indication that the educational level of the head of the households had higher probability of leading to a food secure status in the study area. As previously established in a similar study carried out in Ethiopia, the educational status of the head of the household is essential to improve the food security status of participants [71
]. From the current findings, the effect of religion was positive (1.19710) and significant (p
< 0.10), thereby influencing the probability of being food secure in the study area. The descriptive data indicated 94% Christians, 2% Muslims, and 4% traditionalists. This implies that participants who are Christians have a higher chance of being food secure than their counterparts in other religious beliefs. This could be due to the dominance of Christianity in the selected communities, which might have possibly contributed to a form of religious-based food support within the particular religious community that was lacking in their contemporaries in other religions. However, this could be peculiar to the study area and not generalizable. In addition, the coefficient of household size was negative (−0.62062) and significant at (p
< 0.01) level of significance. This indicates that the size of the households had a significantly lower probability of influencing the food security status of the participants in the study. This might be due to the lower mean household’s size (4 members) recorded in the study. Small-sized household probably translates to lower food demand and hence a food secure household.
On the other hand, the inclusion of indigenous plants in diet by households, captured in dummy form, was positive (0.00001) and significant (p
< 0.01). The inclusion of indigenous plants in daily diet by households had the probability of making them food secure. It shows that people who are food secure are slightly more likely to include some indigenous foods in their diet than people who are food insecure. The most likely explanation is that that they live near markets that sell indigenous plants. It is probably the case that people who live near large food markets that sell a diversity of food types are more food secure, regardless of whether those markets sell indigenous or non-indigenous foods. This observation aligns with existing research that the inclusion of indigenous plants in diet could help to reduce food insecurity and strengthen the food system [14
]. Furthermore, the food expenditure (captured in Rands) was negative (−0.49689) and statistically significant (p
< 0.10). This indicates a negative relationship between the food expenditure of households and their food security status.
In this study, access to indigenous plants market was positive (0.77231) and statistically significant (p
> 0.01) to the households’ food security status. This indicates a positive relationship between market accessibility and food security. It further implies that households that have access to indigenous plants in markets in the study area have a higher likelihood of being food secure than their counterparts without access. The implementation of policies on indigenous plants (captured in its dummy form) had a positive (0.66801) and significant effect on the food security status of households at (p
< 0.05) level, as expected apriori. Generally, if policies supporting indigenous food plant inclusion in food systems could be implemented, there is a higher likelihood of having a more food secure status among rural communities in South Africa [29
]. The coefficient of mainstreaming the indigenous plants into the food system dummy variable was also found to be positive (1.74243) and significant (p
< 0.01). This shows that mainstreaming indigenous plants into a food system could influence the likelihood of being food secure in the study area. This is in line with the assertion by several authors [16
], whereby mainstreaming and integration of indigenous plants for food security could be used to leverage the incorporation of such undervalued varieties to improve access to dietary diversity among the previously disadvantaged populace.
4.4. Knowledge, Perception, and Identification of Indigenous Plants by Participants
indicates the knowledge level and the perception of indigenous plants for food nutrition security and economic sustainability among the participants. In the study area, 95.49% of the participants were knowledgeable about indigenous plants. In addition, the parents were the source of the knowledge for the majority (40.60%) of the participants. On the other hand, 30.08% learnt about the indigenous plants from their community members. These variables are key to a sustainable food system fortification, as evidence exists that the need for indigenous plants knowledge and exploration is key to a diversified food system [16
According to the majority of the participants, indigenous plants are nutritious (69.17%) and healthy (84.21%) for consumption. This is in line with the findings in existing literature [20
]. The studies confirm in various ways that indigenous fruits, vegetables, and grains are nutritious and have diverse health potentials. Likewise, when asked about the possible economic value/potential of indigenous plants, the majority (78.90%) of the participants indicated that the plants have great economic potential, while most (93.23%) of them added their willingness to buy if they found these indigenous plants in the market. In addition, the majority (91.73%) of the participants equally showed that the plants have market potential if explored. This corroborates the previous findings [75
], which demonstrated that indigenous food plants have available local and international markets as well as the willingness to pay by consumers if these plants are commercially cultivated.
In response to whether the participants acknowledge the potential advantage of the indigenous plants if incorporated into the existing food system, 90.23% of them agreed that the indigenous plants are capable of reducing food insecurity in South Africa. In addition, about 43.61% of the participants indicated that these indigenous plants are sources of nutrients that can mitigate food insecurity, while 37.59% agreed that indigenous plants can be a potential source of nutrition and income (finance) if properly explored. This is in line with the apriori
expectation as established in many studies [14
], whereby the need to empower the historically underprivileged and marginalized communities through the inclusion of the underutilised indigenous plants in small holder farming holds a panacea for food insecurity in South Africa.
The study identified that most of the participants (93.23%) considered indigenous plants as drought, pest, and disease resistant as well as low-agricultural input required plants. In addition, 83.46% of the participants agreed that the cultivation of indigenous plants is capable of sustaining the ecosystem. The majority of the participants (94.74%) indicated that there is untapped potential in the indigenous plants. Indigenous plants may increase food supply, and it is also likely that people who are food insecure have a stronger motivation to grow such plants. In the current study, 51.88% of the participants do not cultivate indigenous plants either for personal consumption or for commercial purpose. This implies that these rural dwellers have knowledge about these indigenous plants but are not cultivating it for consumption or sale. This corroborates existing evidence that cultivation of indigenous plants remains neglected and is often seen as food for the poor, unlike their exotic counterparts, a culture that is mainly attributed to a ripple effect of the apartheid regime of South Africa [15