Income and labour productivity of collection and use of indigenous fruit tree products in Zimbabwe
- Cite this article as:
- Mithöfer, D. & Waibel, H. Agroforestry Systems (2003) 59: 295. doi:10.1023/B:AGFO.0000005230.09714.b4
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Rural people in Africa periodically rely on wild fruits to supplement their diet and to generate cash income. However, scientific evidence on the economics of using indigenous fruit tree (IFT) products is scarce. The objective of the study was to fill in some of the gaps for which farm-household surveys were conducted in Zimbabwe during 1999–2000. Gross margins and returns to labour in collection, use and sale of products of Uapaca kirkiana (Muell. Arg., Wild Loquat), Strychnos sp. (S. cocculoides (Baker) and S. spinosa (Lam.), Monkey Orange) and Parinari curatellifolia (Planch. ex. Benth., Fever Tree) were compared with other farming activities. A random sample of over three hundred households in the Murehwa Communal and the Takawira Resettlement Areas was interviewed to gather income and expenditure data. Additionally, income, expenditure and labour allocation of 39 households were closely monitored for one year. Results indicated that the majority of rural households benefited from consumption and sale of indigenous (IF), although the extent varied among households. Within the households, children were the main consumers of fruits. Marketing of IF are carried out by women who used the receipts to purchase household goods. While U. kirkiana fruits were more important in generating cash income than others, fruits of P. curatellifoliawere important for home consumption during periods of food shortages. The gross margins for collection of IFT products were lower than for livestock and crop production. However, returns to labour from collection and use of IFT products were considerably greater than from other activities including gardening and livestock rearing. The study indicates that collection of IFT products is an efficient labour allocation strategy in Zimbabwe.