R. Adeka, P. Maundu, M. Imbumi
Nairobi has a population characterised by diverse community groups consisting of local people and others from different regions of the world. This population represents a diversity of cultures, each with its own types of food. It is expected therefore that the foods sold in the city markets reflect this diversity of cultures due to the demand that such diversity creates. Thus diversity of local traditional African foods would be high. An in-depth study was initiated to find out how African traditional foods (ATFs) are represented in specific Nairobi markets and to investigate factors influencing demand. Twenty-five markets (both wholesale and retail) were sampled for foods sold in their raw or partially processed forms. It was found that about 800 plant food species and cultivars were sold in their raw forms. Non-traditional African plant food species dominated in number, but the bulk of what was sold comprised a relatively small number of indigenous species, as well as food crops introduced to Africa early in history but are now part of the local culture. A comparison with a countrywide database of traditional foods showed that less than 10% of traditional food species consumed by rural Kenyans got to Nairobi markets. Each market has its own characteristics with respect to the nature of foods sold. The importance of each food depended on the communities living in the neighbourhood and their food preferences. The high genetic variation among ATFs provides a good opportunity to diversify diets for better nutrition and health. The low representation of African traditional foods in the market calls for a number of interventions including promotion to enhance demand, value addition and linking farmers to markets.
Adeka, R., Maundu, P. and Imbumi, M. (2009). SIGNIFICANCE OF AFRICAN TRADITIONAL FOODS IN NAIROBI CITY MARKETS, KENYA. Acta Hortic. 806, 451-458
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2009.806.56
market chains, food plants, food diversity, market characteristics, food demand, market access

Acta Horticulturae