Diversity, conservation and use of traditional African vegetables
Traditional vegetables are of great importance for food and nutrition security of people in eastern and southern Africa. Collecting and conserving plants as genetic resources preserves the genetic variability of different horticultural crops and species, and can help prevent the loss of useful genes. Currently, the World Vegetable Center Genebank contains 61,952 accessions from 173 genera and 442 species. At the Center's Eastern and Southern Africa Seed Repository, the collection consists of 2,592 accessions of leaf and fruit vegetable seed from more than 50 species originating from 25 African countries. Most of these accessions belong to the Amaranthaceae, Capparidaceae, Leguminosae, Malvaceae, Solanaceae, and Tilliaceae families. For more than 20 years, the Eastern and Southern Africa office has collected, regenerated, characterized and preserved traditional vegetables with international support and collaboration. Accessions are characterized using a standard descriptor list specific for each crop; evaluation of agro-morphological, molecular and nutritional traits as well as biotic and abiotic stress factors provides additional important information for each accession. This information makes individual accessions and the entire repository collection more attractive to all users, public and private sector alike. The importance of linking conservation with utilization is well recognized. The diversity of traditional vegetables has the potential to provide traits that can help meet future challenges, such as resistance and tolerance to new pest and diseases, adaptation to changing climatic conditions, and increased yield and nutritional quality. Promotional activities to increase the use of the germplasm collection among researchers, traders, farmers, women, and children are underway.
Stoilova, T. (2020). Diversity, conservation and use of traditional African vegetables. Acta Hortic. 1267, 1-6
vegetables, germplasm, conservation, utilization, diversity