The aim of the present investigation was to document the contribution of traditional food crops to food security in Nhema communal area, Midlands Province, Zimbabwe. The study employed oral interviews and detailed discussions with 78 participants. A total of 23 plant species were identified as important traditional food crops in Nhema communal area. The most commonly grown traditional food crops wereArachis hypogea (groundnut), Zea mays (maize), Vigna subterranean (bambara groundnut), Ipomoea batatas (sweet potato), Cucurbita maxima (pumpkin) and Vigna unguiculata (cow pea). Traditional food crops in Nhema communal area were mainly used as leafy vegetables (40%), followed by edible seeds (20%), cereals (17%), edible fruits (13%), edible stems (7%) and edible tubers (3%). Food production was found to be the major function of traditional food crops but crop surplus was often marketed in local markets to raise cash income. The highest mean annual cash income generated by a household through selling of traditional food crops was $193.70. These findings are discussed in the context of how traditional food crops are utilized by rural communities in meeting household’s food needs.
Key words: Cash income, food security, traditional food crops, Zimbabwe.
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