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Sorghum and millet consumption practices in the Limpopo Province : a feedback to the stakeholders. Fieldwork report

Bichard A., Dury S., Bricas N., Schönfeldt H.C.. 2003. Montpellier : CIRAD, 21 p..

In 2002, studies were conducted to understand the consumption patterns of indigenous cereals in the Limpopo Province. Fieldwork was implemented in July 2003 in order to present findings of this consumption study to different stakeholders involved in the sorghum sector in the Limpopo Province. People met were not surprised by the results of the study. Some people, especially from the Limpopo Province Department of Agriculture, are convinced that sorghum (or millet) is more adapted than maize to the environment of the Limpopo Province. They regret that most investments for agronomical research were dedicated to maize, which has become now more attractive for local farmers. Seed breeders are also interested in consumers' perceptions, which should be taken into consideration more for seeds selection. In fact, criteria of selection focus more on agronomical criteria (drought resistance, yield,..). Farmers were not surprised by the information disseminated. They agreed with the urban consumers' perception towards sorghum. Some consider that access to urban markets could be a good opportunity to motivate farmers to produce. However, reaching urban markets seems premature at this stage, as most farmers are only involved in subsistence farming. Their production excess is limited and can moreover be sold locally at a very good price. The harvest in 2003 was extremely bad because of drought. In some instances the researchers could not insist on the potential represented by urban demand when people didn't manage to harvest enough for subsistence. Presenting a feedback of millet and sorghum consumption practices in town gave the researchers an opportunity to speak about these cereals with local stakeholders. In some parts of Limpopo Province, people don't rely on the conventional food supply chain for their staple food but on a local food system developed around sorghum (and millet) production. People report that farming, storage and processing of sorghum are practised in a "traditional" way which differs from the "industrial" one. They assume the porridge made out of the sorghum meal produced locally is different from the commercial one. The specificity of local sorghum meal as well as the contribution of this local food chain to the social, cultural, economic development of rural communities should be investigated.

Mots-clés : sorgho; millet; consommation alimentaire; technologie traditionnelle; petite entreprise; agriculteur; analyse de système; technologie alimentaire; commercialisation; organisation socioéconomique; afrique du sud; mil

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