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Crafting a livelihood: local-level trade in mats and baskets in Pondoland, South Africa

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  • Zwoitwa Makhado
  • Thembela Kepe

Abstract

The contribution of natural resources to the livelihoods of the rural poor is widely acknowledged, yet not much is known about trade in these resources. This article investigates local-level trade in plant-based mats and baskets in Khanyayo Village, Pondoland, Eastern Cape, focusing on the social aspects of harvesting, resource tenure and trade in Cyperus textilis and products made from it. It explores the way the mat and basket trade contributes to the livelihoods of the rural poor and argues that crafting is mainly the domain of very poor or widowed women, who use it to supplement their diverse and multiple livelihood strategies. Although its cash contribution to the total household income is minimal, crafting is seen by local people as extremely important. However, mat and basket traders face a number of internal and external struggles, which must be understood by policy makers if crafting is to contribute to the fight against poverty in rural areas.

Suggested Citation

  • Zwoitwa Makhado & Thembela Kepe, 2006. "Crafting a livelihood: local-level trade in mats and baskets in Pondoland, South Africa," Development Southern Africa, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 23(4), pages 497-509.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:deveza:v:23:y:2006:i:4:p:497-509
    DOI: 10.1080/03768350600927250
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