G.W. Mbugua, L. Gitonga, B. Ndungu, E. Gatambia, L. Manyeki , J. Karoga
African indigenous vegetables (AIVs) such as Amaranthus spp., Solanum spp., and spider plant (Cleome gynandra) are nutritionally superior compared to exotic ones like cabbage because they contain far more carotene, vitamin C, protein, iron, calcium and magnesium crucial in counteracting deficiency related diseases. However, these vegetables have been neglected by science and development hence awareness of their importance is minimal and they lack improved practices. Most of them are treated as weeds and therefore face the danger of genetic erosion. In an attempt to enhance awareness, a study was conducted to determine important AIVs species, farmers’ preferences and research needs in parts of central and eastern Kenya. Fourteen farmer-groups with 374 farmers, majority of whom were women were interviewed using a structured questionnaire. Data were analyzed using qualitative and quantitative methods. A trend of decreasing number of species used as indigenous vegetables with intensification of agriculture was recorded. Farmers identified about 30 different species of indigenous vegetables, and using their own criteria, prioritized six of these vegetables as the most important. Farmers also identified production constraints which included lack of knowledge on the vegetables e.g., production practices, cooking methods, utilization and preservation methods; lack of seed, low yields, competition with some exotic vegetables especially the brassicas such as kales; and the fact that indigenous vegetables were regarded as weeds and as low value crops therefore fetching low market price. Priority research areas as identified by the farmers included crop production practices, vegetable preparation and utilization; postharvest handling especially preservation methods and simple processing, introduction of new species, demonstrations and seed production techniques.
Mbugua, G.W., Gitonga, L., Ndungu, B., Gatambia, E., Manyeki , L. and Karoga, J. (2011). AFRICAN INDIGENOUS VEGETABLES AND FARMER-PREFERENCES IN CENTRAL KENYA. Acta Hortic. 911, 479-485
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2011.911.56
African indigenous vegetables, nutrition, HIV-aids, priority species, production constraints, priority research

Acta Horticulturae