Importance of indigenous food crops in tropical Africa: case study
A great diversity of indigenous fruit and vegetable species has been neglected in favor of the production of exotic crops. These neglected species have now increased in importance, due to the recognition of their potential contribution in preventing malnutrition, obesity and diet-related disorders and hidden hunger. Many indigenous food crops constitute inexpensive and rich sources of protein, carotenoids, vitamin C, and dietary fiber. Amaranth production was promoted in East and Southern Africa resulting in increased availability of improved cultivars, greater amounts of produce in the peri-urban and urban areas at affordable prices. Similar initiatives have been carried out in the region for other indigenous food crops with cultivars, information and production technologies, resulting from this project, disseminated through diverse methods such as training, demonstrations/field days print media, oral-media and farmer field schools. Studies have concluded that the development of efficient marketing processes is vital for the commercial success of the small fruits and vegetables grower. Promoting policies that are consistent with the sustainable use, management and development of underutilized species will create enabling environments for managing local diversity and developing local and export markets for a wider range of traditional and new products. Further efforts are also needed for the conservation, production and sustainable use of these crops with a view to creating improved cultivars, providing quality seed, adding value, training farmers and extension officers and collecting and documenting information. In this regard, a group of scientists have developed a two-volume manual that would help ease the gap in information and training resources for the major indigenous food crops commonly used in Africa.
Pichop, G.N., Abukutsa-Onyango, M., Noorani, A. and Nono-Womdim, R. (2016). Importance of indigenous food crops in tropical Africa: case study. Acta Hortic. 1128, 315-322
fruits, vegetables, underutilized crops, food security, agrobiodiversity