PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATION INTO THE POTENTIAL FOR COMMERCIALIZATION OF INDIGENOUS FRUITS IN RURAL COMMUNITIES: SURVEY, FRUIT COMPOSITION, PROPAGATION AND PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT
In South Africa there are numerous indigenous fruits that are well known and highly prized by rural communities who often depend on these trees for food security. This wide diversity of fruits is a source of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and trace elements to rural communities and play an important role in their diet especially in times of food scarcity. The Agricultural Research Council has been involved in the identification and development of indigenous fruits in order to facilitate eventual commercial production. A number of indigenous fruits with potential have been identified and research on their propagation has been initiated. Surveys were undertaken in conjunction with village communities in Eastern Cape (O R Tambo district) and Limpopo (Vhembe district), South Africa. Participatory Research Appraisal techniques were used in determining which fruits are utilized and their importance to the rural communities. This was done by means of a questionnaire, which was completed during the survey. Data were analyzed and the species identified by most participants and which were used for income generation were ranked as the most important species. Twenty species were identified in the Eastern Cape and 32 species in Limpopo. The nutritional composition of eight of the highest ranked species was determined. Fresh fruit pulp from Dovyalis caffra had high Vitamin C content (347 mg/100 g) but declined when the pulp was frozen. Fresh fruit pulp from Ximenia Americana (1987 RE/100 g) and Mimusops zeyheri (1932 Re/100 g) had high Vitamin A content. Propagation protocols were investigated for six of the selected species. Only Parinari curatellifolia exhibited poor seed germination. Air-layers were successful with D. caffra, Engelerophytum magalismontanum and M. zeyheri. D. caffra was successfully grafted and semi-hardwood cuttings rooted successfully. The real potential for income generation of indigenous fruits lies in the processing and value adding component. Initial product development was carried out with six species, and fruit nectars, as well as dried fruit rolls, were developed and evaluated. The preliminary results are indicative of the potential to develop products from indigenous fruits. These products have a unique taste and have the potential to be developed into a niche market. These fruits can now be processed and stored by rural communities for times when fresh fruit is not available. The potential also exists to utilize the indigenous fruit pulps in combination with conventional fruits to improve flavour, colour or texture resulting in unique products. Further species will be investigated and processing technologies will be refined.
du Preez, R.J., de Jager, K., Welgemoed, C.P., Maphanga, O., Mhlophe, S.D. and Hansmann, C. (2013). PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATION INTO THE POTENTIAL FOR COMMERCIALIZATION OF INDIGENOUS FRUITS IN RURAL COMMUNITIES: SURVEY, FRUIT COMPOSITION, PROPAGATION AND PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT. Acta Hortic. 1007, 613-626
indigenous fruit, survey, fruit composition, propagation, product development