The recent launch of the first-ever traditional recipe book in KwaZulu-Natal is set to improve food security in the country by demonstrating how to make nutritious food from cheaper and widely available traditional crops and wild plants. The book was the culmination of a traditional food promotion project co-funded by the KZN Department of Agriculture and Environmental Affairs (DAEA) and the Flemish government, running since October 2003, to encourage impoverished communities to start using traditional crops and wild edible plants when preparing food. A ccording to KZN DAEA spokesperson Mbulelo Baloyi, the project was in line with the concept of African Renaissance which supports self-reliance and the indigenous knowledge system.
“The project was also based on the premise that rural households in poverty, and those affected by HIV/Aids, suffer from high levels of income and capability poverty respectively, whereas those with access to land and natural resources reap the optimum benefits of these resources and also consume natural resource products at an unsustainable rate,” Baloyi said. The KZN Traditional Food Recipe Book contains recipes garnered from a traditional food cooking competition held in the province during 2005. The competition created awareness of the value and diversity of traditional foods among communities, and encouraged young people to re-adopt their traditional values. “The competition also sparked an interest in traditional foods throughout KwaZulu-Natal, with many catering companies adding traditional dishes to their menus as a result,” Baloyi added. “The Department of Correctional Services also ran a similar competition during 2006.” – Lloyd Phillips