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What can rural communities grow and eat to improve nutrition?

While there is not much evidence of wide-spread starvation and extreme under-nutrition in South Africa, national surveys provide evidence of multiple forms of deprivation related to the experience of hunger, wide-spread ‘hidden hunger’ or micronutrient deficiencies and increasing rates of overweight and obesity. The co-existence of adult (especially female) overweight and obesity with hidden hunger and child stunting raises concern about household food security. This highlights the importance of understanding the constraints faced by households in achieving food security to ensure health, productivity and development. 

The purpose of this project was to address a significant and longstanding gap in knowledge on where rural households obtain their food, their food consumption patterns and how crop production contributes to household food security. We set out to identify a set of options for strengthening rain-fed and irrigated crop production in the rural areas that could lead to better nutrition.
This research draws on a Water Research Commission (WRC) funded project K5/2172/4: Current rain-fed and irrigated production of food crops and its potential to meet all year round nutritional requirements of rural poor people in North West, Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape Provinces. WRC and University of Pretoria, Pretoria. The study was funded by the WRC and DAFF and supplemented with funding from the NRF. 
Download and read our research briefs and report:
Project summary
Brochure for Ingquza Hill
Brochure for Jozini
Brochure for Maruleng
Brochure for Ratlou
We have also developed a smart App for identifying suitable crops to improve nutrition - click here to download the SmartGrow app. 

See related articles published on this research at:

Why a diverse diet is crucial for rural South Africans by Sheryl L Hendriks and Angela McIntyre
Limited food options take their toll on the health of South Africa’s rural poor by Angela McIntyre
What are we measuring? Comparison of household food security indicators in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. Hendriks et al. (2016). Ecol Food Nutr. 2016;55(2):141-62.

The Project Team:

From left to right: Dr Mjabuliseni Ngidi, Prof John Annadale, Dr Annemarie Viljoen, Mr Corné van der
Merwe, Ms Maria Molokomme, Ms Angela McIntyre, Dr Friede Wenhold, Prof Sheryl Hendriks, Ms
Grace Tima Munthali and Mr Mmatlou Kalaba

For more information about this project, please contact Prof Sheryl Hendriks, Director of the Institute for Food, Nutrition and Well-being and Project Leader at [email protected]

- Author Sheryl Hendriks
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Last edited by Sheryl HendriksEdit