Food Security

, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 153–165 | Cite as

Mopane worm (Imbrasia belina) and rural household food security in Limpopo province, South Africa

  • L. J. S. BaiyegunhiEmail author
  • B. B. Oppong
  • G. M. Senyolo
Original Paper


Rural households in South Africa are vulnerable to food and income adversity. As a result, they adopt a range of livelihoods strategies, including consumption and trade of woodland resources to improve their living standards. Mopane worms (caterpillars of the Emperor Moth Imbrasia belina) have been identified as important to rural livelihoods, as an alternative land-use option as well as in fulfilling an important food security function. Whilst mopane worms may contribute to food security, this safety-net function needs more critical and quantitative investigation. This study examined the relationship between mopane worm consumption and household’s food security in the Limpopo Province, South Africa using the Household Food Insecurity Access Scale (HFIAS) and the Tobit regression model based on a household survey of 120 respondents. The result from HFIAS showed that about 52 % of the households were severely food insecure, while others were either mildly or moderately food insecure. Only 16 % of the households were food secure. The Tobit regression model estimates show that proxy variables (i.e. income from mopane worm trade and the frequency of mopane worm consumption) measuring the contribution of mopane worms to rural household food security are statistically significant factors influencing household food insecurity in the study area. Implications for policy are discussed.


NTFPs Mopane worm Consumption Food security HFIAS Tobit regression 



The college of Agriculture, Engineering and science, University of KwaZulu-Natal is acknowledged for funding this study through its postgraduate student bursary. We also thank all the households in the study area that participated in the survey.

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical clearance for this study (Ref No: HSS/0422/013 M) was obtained from the University of KwaZulu-Natal Research Office for the study.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


  1. Abu, B. M., Osei-Asare, Y. B., & Wayo, S. (2014). Market participation of smallholder maize farmers in the Upper West region of Ghana. African Journal of Agricultural Research, 9(31), 2427–2435.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aliber, M. (2009). Exploring statistics South Africa’s national household surveys: as sources of information about household-level food security. Agrekon, 48(4), 384–409.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Altman, M., Hart, T. G. B., & Jacobs, P. T. (2009). Household food security status in South Africa. Agrekon, 48(4), 345–361.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Amemiya, T. (1973). Regression analysis when the dependent variable is truncated normal. Econometrica, 41(6), 997–1016.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Backeberg, G. R., & Sanewe, A. J. (2010). Towards productive water use and household food security in South Africa (pp. 10–16). Yogyakarta, Indonesia: Paper presented at the 6th Asian Regional Conference of ICID.Google Scholar
  6. Baiyegunhi, L. J. S., & Fraser, G. C. G. (2011). Vulnerability and poverty dynamics in rural areas of Eastern Cape province, South Africa Ghana. Journal of Development Studies, 8(2), 84–100.Google Scholar
  7. Baiyegunhi, L. J. S., & Makwangudze, K. E. (2013). Home gardening and food security status of HIV/AIDS affected households in mpophomeni, KwaZulu-Natal province, South Africa. Journal of Human Ecology, 44(1), 1–8.Google Scholar
  8. Bless, C., & Higson-Smith, C. (2000). Fundamentals of social research methods: an African perspective (3rd ed., ). Cape Town: Juta.Google Scholar
  9. Coates, J., Swindale, A., & Bilinsky, P. (2007). Household food insecurity access scale (HFIAS) for measurement of food access: Indicator Guide (v.3). Washington DC: Food and Nutrition Technical Assistance Project (FANTA).Google Scholar
  10. Compton, J., Wiggins, S., & Keats, S. (2010). Impact of the global food crisis on the poor: what is the evidence? London: Overseas Development Institute.Google Scholar
  11. Cousins, B. (1999). Invisible capital: the contribution of communal rangelands to rural livelihood in South Africa. Development Southern Africa, 16, 299–318.Google Scholar
  12. D’Hase, L., & Vermeulen, H. (2011). The food security status of Limpopo Province: Archive of interdisciplinary discussion groups and past events. Retrieved from on 15/08/12.
  13. De Cock, N., D’Haese, M., Vink, N., van Rooyen, C. J., Staelens, L., Schonfeldt, H. C., et al. (2013). Food security in rural areas of Limpopo province: South Africa. Food Security, 5, 269–282.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. De Foliart, G. R. (1995). Edible insects as mini-livestock. Biodiversity and Conservation, 4, 306–321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Deitchler, M., Ballard, T., Swindale, A., & Coates, J. (2010). Validation of a measure of household hunger for cross cultural use. US State Department 3rd Annual Conference on program evaluation: New paradigms for evaluating diplomacy in the 21st Century. 8–9.Google Scholar
  16. FAO (2010). The state of food insecurity in the world. Rome: Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations.Google Scholar
  17. Frost, P. G. H. (2005). A guide to sustainable use of mopane worms. Institute of Environment Studies, Harare: University of Zimbabwe.Google Scholar
  18. Goudge, J., Russel, S., Gilson, L., Gujmede, T., Tollman, S., & Mills, A. (2009). Illness-related impoverishment in rural South Africa: why does social protection work for some households but not others? Journal of International Development, 21(2), 231–251.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gujarati, D. N., & Porter, D. C. (2009). Basic econometrics (5th ed., ). New York: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.Google Scholar
  20. Hadley, C., Borgerhoff Mulder, M., & Fitzherbert, E. (2007). Seasonal food insecurity and perceived social support in rural Tanzania. Public Health Nutrition, 10(6), 544–551.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Hadley, C., Linzer, D. A., Belachew, T., Mariam, A. G., Tessema, F., & Lindstrom, D. (2011). Household capacities, vulnerabilities and food insecurity: shifts in food insecurity in urban and rural Ethiopia during the 2008 food crisis. Social Science & Medicine, 73(10), 1534–1542.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hart, T. (2009). Exploring definitions of food insecurity and vulnerability: time to re-focus assessment. Agrekon, 48(4), 362–383.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hope, R. A., Frost, P. G. H., Gardiner, A., & Ghazoul, J. (2009). Experimental analysis of adoption of domestic mopane worm farming technology in Zimbabwe. Development Southern Africa, 26(10), 29–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Janse, G., & Ottisch, A. (2005). Factors influencing the role of non-wood forest products and services. Forest Policy and Economics, 7, 309–319.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. LDLGH. (2007). Districts and Municipalities. Limpopo-Department of Local Government and Housing. Retrieved from on 08/12/2012.
  26. Lucas, T. L. (2010). The evolution and impacts of mopane worm harvesting: perceptions of harvesters in central Botswana. In MSc thesis, Johannesburg. South Africa: University of the Witwatersrand.Google Scholar
  27. Makhado, R. A., Von Maltitz, G. P., Potgieter, M. J., & Wessels, D. C. (2009). Contribution of woodland products to rural livelihoods in the northeast of Limpopo province, South Africa. South African Geographical Journal, 91(1), 46–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Makhado, R. A., Potgieter, M. J., Wessels, D. C., Saidi, A. T., & Masehela, K. K. (2012). Use of mopane woodland resources and associated woodland management challenges in rural areas of South Africa. Ethnobotany Research and Applications, 10, 369–379.Google Scholar
  29. Moruakgomo, M. B. W. (1996). Commercial Utilisation Of Botswanaz’s Veldt Products – The Economics Of Phane. In B. A. Gashe, & S. F. Mpuchane (Eds.), The Dimensions of Phane Trade. Phane. Gaborone, Botswana: Department of Biological Sciences.Google Scholar
  30. Mpuchane, S., Gashe, B. A., Allotey, J., Siame, B., Teferra, G., & Ditlhogo, M. (2000). Quality deterioration of phane, the edible caterpillar of an emperor moth imbrasia belina. Food Control, 11, 453–458.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Mucina, L., & Rutherford, M. C. (2006). The vegetation of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. Strelitzia 19. Pretoria: South African Biodiversity Institute.Google Scholar
  32. Paumgarten, F., & Shackleton, C. M. (2009). Wealth differentiation in household use and trade in non-timber forest products in South Africa. Ecological Economics, 68, 2950–2959.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Potgieter, M. J., Makhado, R. A., & Potgieter, A. (2012). Mopane worms: assessing the potential of insects as food and feed in assuring food security. In Technical consultation meeting, 23–25 January 2012. Rome-Italy: FAO.Google Scholar
  34. Sakyi, P. (2012). Determinants of food accessibility of rural households in the Limpopo province: South Africa. MSc thesis: Gent University, Belgium.Google Scholar
  35. Salarkia, N., Abdollahi, M., Amini, M., & Neyestani, T. R. (2014). An adapted household food insecurity access scale is a valid tool as a proxy of food access for use in urban Iran. Food Security, 6, 275–282.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Schatz, E., Gomez-Olive, X., Ralston, M., Menken, J., & Tollman, S. (2012). The impact of pensions on health and wellbeing in rural South Africa: does gender matter? Social Science & Medicine, 75(10), 1864–1873.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Shackleton, C., & Shackleton, S. (2004). The importance of non-timber forest products in rural livelihood security and as safety nets: a review of evidence from South Africa. South African Journal of Science, 100(11&12), 658–665.Google Scholar
  38. South Africa Weather Service. 1980-2003. Long-term climate data of Giyani Area. Available at: <> [accessed on 6 January 2015].
  39. Stack, J., Dorward, A., Gondo, T., Frost, P., Taylor, F., & Kurebgaseka, N. (2003). Mopane worm utilisation and rural livelihoods in Southern Africa (pp. 19–23). Germany: In CIFOR Livelihood Conference Bonn.Google Scholar
  40. StatisticsSA. (2011). The South Africa I know, the home I understand. Available at: <> [accessed on 19 January 2015].
  41. Tobin, J. (1958). Estimation of relationships for limited dependent variables. Econometrica, 26, 24–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Tsai, A. C., Bangsberg, D. R., Emenyonu, N., Senkungu, J. K., Martin, J. N., & Weiser, S. D. (2011). The social context of food insecurity among persons living with HIV/AIDS in rural Uganda. Social Science & Medicine, 73(12), 1717–1724.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Twine, W., & Hunter, L. M. (2011). Adult mortality and household food security in rural South Africa: does AIDS represent a unique mortality shock? Development Southern Africa, 28(4), 431–444.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Vantomme, P., Gohler, D., & N’Deckere-Ziangba, F. (2004). Contribution of forest insects to food security and forest conservation. The example of caterpillars in central Africa. London: ODI Wildlife Policy Briefing, 3, 1–4.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht and International Society for Plant Pathology 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. J. S. Baiyegunhi
    • 1
    Email author
  • B. B. Oppong
    • 1
  • G. M. Senyolo
    • 2
  1. 1.SAEES - Discipline of Agricultural EconomicsUniversity of KwaZulu-NatalPietermaritzburgSouth Africa
  2. 2.Department of Crop Sciences, Faculty of ScienceTshwane University of TechnologyPretoriaSouth Africa

Personalised recommendations