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African indigenous vegetables in Kenya: strategic repositioning in the horticultural sector

Abstract and Figures

The year, 2010 has been declared the International Year of Biodiversity by the United Nations to celebrate diversity of plants and animals. Horticultural biodiversity including African Indigenous Vegetables (AIVs) that used to form an integral part of Kenyan diets should be part of this celebration. However, with the introduction of exotic temperate crops like cabbage, indigenous greens lost popularity in Kenya and started to be regarded as ‘weeds’ and `poor man’s food. With 60% of the Kenyan population living below the poverty line, resulting in malnutrition and poor health, there is need for a paradigm shift in the production patterns to harness the nutrition and economic potential of indigenous vegetables. In recent years, Kenyans have seen an increase in diet related ailments such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and anaemia. Indigenous vegetables are micro nutrient dense and could prove a powerful weapon in the fight against poverty and malnutrition since they are suited to local conditions. However, a number of factors have conspired against sustainable production and use of these greens including negative perception, poor quality seed, lack of technical packages, poor marketing and high perishability affecting their strategic repositioning in the Horticultural sector. To raise the status of indigenous vegetables, this professorial inaugural lecture will take you through a journey of pioneering research initiated at JKUAT and Maseno Universities in the early 1990s by Prof Abukutsa. The programme which continues today has yielded tangible achievements over the years including the following: AIVs with nutrition and economic potential selected; germplasm collected, characterized and evaluated; quality seed packaged and availed; technical protocols developed and disseminated; seed support systems established; AIVs promoted; capacity built; conservation done; product prototypes developed. These achievements have led to increased production and availability. Although there is reason for some celebration, the future focus is envisaged to be the development of good agricultural practices (GAP), efficient seed delivery system, breeding, conservation, commercialization, processing, value addition and product development of indigenous vegetables in Kenya. African Indigenous Vegetables have a crucial part to play in revolutionizing the Horticultural sector for food security, nutrition, income and sustainable development in Kenya. It is therefore, time to strategically reposition AIVs in the horticultural sector and restore their lost glory. Key words: African indigenous vegetables, horticulture, biodiversity, repositioning.
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AFRICAN INDIGENOUS VEGETABLES IN KENYA:
Strategic Repositioning in the Horticultural Sector
by
Professor Abukutsa Mary Oyiela Onyango
BSc (Agri), MSc (Agron)[UoN], Ph.D (Hort)[London]
Professor of Horticulture,
Department of Horticulture, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and
Technology (JKUAT)
E-mail: Mabukutsa@yahoo.com
Abukutsam@gmail.com , abukutsam@agri.jkuat.ac.ke
Website: www.jkuat.ac.ke
Typesetting and Printing: by JKUAT
ISBN 9966-923-31-4
2AFRICAN INDIGENOUS VEGETABLES IN KENYA
Dedication
“This Inaugural Lecture is Dedicated to my Father, the Late Mwalimu Enos
Abukutsa Masele for His Unswerving Support and Encouragement in my
Academic Work and for Teaching me Virtues of Integrity, Hard work, Excellence,
Humility and Honesty at a Tender age
And
To My Two Sons Douglas and Anthony for Refueling my Research Interest
in unraveling the potential of African Indigenous Vegetables by Constantly
Questioning the Rationale of having them in our Daily Diet”
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Strategic Repositioning in the Horticultural Sector
Table of Contents
Dedication .....................................................................................................2
Biography ...................................................................................................... 6
Abstract ....................................................................................................... 10
1.0. Introduction .........................................................................................11
1.1 Background: ........................................................................................... 11
1.2 Food Security and Nutrition ....................................................................11
1.3 The Role of Horticulture Sector ...............................................................13
1.4. The Role of Agricultural Biodiversity .......................................................14
1.5 Objectives of the Lecture ........................................................................ 15
2.0 African Indigenous Vegetables ..............................................................17
2.1 Historical Perspective of African Indigenous Vegetables ...........................17
2.2 Value and Potential of African Indigenous Vegetables .............................. 19
2.2.1 Nutritive Value .....................................................................................19
2.2.2 Medicinal value and Health benefits .................................................... 21
2.2.3 Agronomic Advantages ........................................................................21
2.2.4 Income Generation and employment opportunities .............................22
2.3 Constraints to optimal Production and Utilization of AIVs ........................ 22
2.3.1: Neglect and Stigmatization .................................................................22
2.3.2: Inadequate awareness of the value and potential of AIVs .................... 23
2.3.3: Lack of Quality Seed ..........................................................................23
2.3.4: Lack of Agronomic and Utilization technical packages .......................23
2.3.5: Short Shelf Life and Lack of Preservation and Processing technologies 24
2.3.6: Poor Marketing Strategies ...................................................................24
2.3.7: Consequences of the constraints .........................................................24
3.0 Overview of Research Activities ............................................................25
3.1 Goal and Objectives of the Research on African indigenous vegetables ...25
3.2: Multidisciplinary Projects Undertaken on African Indigenous
Vegetables. ................................................................................................. 25
3.4: Germplasm, Collection, Evaluation, Characterization and
Multiplication of Priority AIVs ........................................................................ 30
3.5: Agronomic, Physiological and Nutritional Studies ..................................32
3.5.1: Agronomic Studies .............................................................................. 32
3.5.2: Physiological Studies ...........................................................................34
3.5.3 Nutritional Studies ............................................................................... 34
3.6: Development and Evaluation of Recipes and Products of AIVs ............... 35
4AFRICAN INDIGENOUS VEGETABLES IN KENYA
4.0 Strategic Repositioning of AIVs in the Horticulture Sector ..................37
4.1 Overview of repositioning .......................................................................37
4.2 Advocacy and Promotion ........................................................................37
4.3 Capacity Building, ................................................................................. 38
4.3.1 Curricula development and training in Universities ..............................38
4.3.2. Researchers and Scholars .................................................................... 41
4.3.3 Community based organizations and Farmers.......................................43
4.3.4. Policy makers ......................................................................................43
4.4. Development of Dissemination Materials ............................................... 44
4.5. Sustainable Quality Seed supply systems ............................................... 44
4.6 Conservation of African Indigenous Vegetables. ......................................45
4.7 Markets for Indigenous vegetables ........................................................... 45
4.8. Recipes, Processing technologies and Product prototypes ....................... 46
4.9 Acceptability of Indigenous vegetables for consumption ........................ 46
5.0 Significance of research on AIVS to development and its impact .........47
5.1. Increased number of Students researching on AIVs ................................47
5.2 Availability of Quality seed: ....................................................................47
5.3 Increased Yields and Production of AIVs ................................................48
5.4 Increased Popularity, Availability and Consumption of African
indigenous vegetables ................................................................................... 48
5.5. Availability of dissemination materials ....................................................48
5.6 Increased research and reference materials on indigenous vegetables ...... 48
5.6 Consequently a Contribution has been made to: ..................................... 49
6.0 Conclusions Recommendations ..............................................................50
6.1 Conclusions ............................................................................................ 50
6.2 Research Directions and Perspectives ...................................................... 50
6.3 Suggested ways to engage Industry, the Private Sector and other Partners 51
6.4 Parting Shot ............................................................................................ 51
7.0 Acknowledgement ................................................................................. 52
8.0 References ............................................................................................ 54
9.0 Annexes ................................................................................................. 60
Annex 1 Honours and Awards .....................................................................60
Annex 2: Achievements and Research Impact ...............................................61
Annex 3: MY APPEAL ...................................................................................63
5
Strategic Repositioning in the Horticultural Sector
Professor Abukutsa Mary Oyiela Onyango
BSc (Agri), MSc (Agron)[UoN], Ph.D (Hort)[London]
Professor of Horticulture
6AFRICAN INDIGENOUS VEGETABLES IN KENYA
BIOGRAPHY
Family Background
Professor Abukutsa Mary Oyiela Onyango was born on 20th February 1959 in a
small village called Ematsuli, in Emuhaya Division,in larger Kakamega District in
Western Province, Kenya. She is the third born in a family of eight children of a
renown educator, the late Mr. Enos Abukutsa Masele (Papa) and Mama Rosebella
Amumbwe Abukutsa, a dedicated, housewife. Her father believed in equal
opportunities for girls and boys. Prof Abukutsa attributes her success in academia
to the encouragement and support she received from her late father who was her
mentor, and the care and love from her mother. At a very early age these dedicated
parents instilled in her a strong sense of Love, Hard work, Integrity, Excellence,
Discipline, Honesty, Timeliness, Cleanliness, Organization, Freedom from debts,
Commitment, Independence, Peace, Generosity and Hospitality, most of all, they
taught her to love God. She was baptized at Ilungu Seventh Day Adventist church
in August, 1975 by Pastor Washington Buka. Prof Abukutsa was very fond of her
late father, so much so that she wishes that he had lived long enough to witness
this occasion, however his legacy lives on, in her. Professor Abukutsa wedded Prof
J.C Onyango at Bondo CPK church on 3rd April 1987, and they were blessed with
two boys Douglas Ochieng’ and Anthony Okelo. Following the principles of hard
work, honesty and a desire to excel, the boys have risen from the small Maseno
Mixed Primary School in a rural set up to National Schools (Starehe Boys Centre
and Maseno School) and to reputable National (JKUAT, Kenya) and International
(Williams College, USA) Universities.
Education and Career Development
Prof Abukutsa grew up in a rural setting and went to Ematsuli Primary School in
Emuhaya, between 1966 and 1972 and later proceeded to Bunyore Girls High
School where she studied between 1973 and 1976 obtaining EACE, certificate
with First Division. She was then admitted to Ng’iya Girls High School in 1977 for
Advanced level studies in Biology, Chemistry and Mathematics where she obtained
EAACE certificate with three very good principals, that qualified her to study
medicine, her father’s wish, but she preferred Agriculture as she already had a
vision to unravel the secret behind African indigenous vegetables she had survived
on due to allergy to animal protein. She graduated with honours from University
of Nairobi with a BSc in Agriculture in 1983. She worked as a District Horticultural
7
Strategic Repositioning in the Horticultural Sector
officer in Kisii district for two years before University of Nairobi sponsored her
for a Masters in Agronomy which she completed in record time of two years and
graduated in 1988. After completing her Masters she held several positions in
the Ministry of agriculture that included; Technical information disseminator at
Agricultural Information Centre, as Horticultural Export Produce Inspector at Jomo
Kenyatta International Airport and at the Ministry Headquarters Kilimo house as
the officer in charge of Monitoring and Evaluation of the Food situation in the
country and advising the office of the president on a monthly basis. In 1990 she
joined Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology as a Junior Research
Fellow in the Division of Research Production and Extension where she started
her work on African Indigenous Vegetables. She moved to Maseno University as
a lecturer in 1992 and in the same year she won a Joint Japanese World Bank
Graduate Scholarship Program (JJWBP) Scholarship to undertake a Doctorate
degree at the University of London-Wye College., U.K. Prof Abukutsa had wished
to continue her research on African Indigenous Vegetables but she was advised by
her supervisor to change as these were considered as “weeds” so she had to shelf
her childhood dream and settle on Onions. She again completed her doctorate
studies in record time of three years from November 1992 to November 1995
and returned to Maseno University where she was promoted to Senior Lecturer
in 1997 and as Associate Professor in 2003. In December 2007, she took up an
appointment as Professor of Horticulture, Department of Horticulture at The Jomo
Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology.
Professor Abukutsa has had a distinguished career in University teaching, research,
administration and leadership. She steadily and competitively rose up academic
ranks from Junior research fellow in, 1990 to lecturer, 1992 to Senior Lecturer,
in 1997, became Associate Professor in 2003 and Full Professor of Horticulture
in December, 2007. She has been instrumental in programme development, she
developed the Horticulture programme at Maseno University in 1996-1997, and
has been instrumental in including African indigenous Vegetables in the BSc and
MSc Programmes at Maseno University and JKUAT. She has served diligently as
an external examiner for University of Nairobi, Moi University, Egerton University
and Kenyatta University for their undergraduate and post graduate programmes
and theses. She serves as a reviewer of several high profile scientific journals most
of which are open access journals.
Professor Abukutsa was in 1999, appointed as the first coordinator at the Centre
of Research in Natural sciences and Technological Development at Maseno
University, a position she held till 2003, when she was appointed Dean Faculty of
Science a post she held for two years. In 2006 she was appointed Director, School
of Graduate Studies at Maseno University a post she held till she moved to Jomo
8AFRICAN INDIGENOUS VEGETABLES IN KENYA
Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology. At JKUAT she was in November
2008 appointed coordinator of JKUAT Resources Mobilization Team
Research and Scholarly work
Prof Abukutsa has been a prolific scholar and researcher and an effective educator,
imparting knowledge and skills to both undergraduate and postgraduate students.
She has successfully supervised 55 BSc, 15 MSc and 5 PhD students (candidates).
Prof Abukutsa is an active researcher in several programs: She has worked as a
researcher in NERICA-rice research initiative promoted by Japanese International
Cooperation Agency (JICA) and AICAD on NERICA rice adaptability trials in Kenya,
Agronomy, physiology and cropping systems of traditional rain fed rice in the Lake
Victoria region. This research initiative working with Ministry of Agriculture and
KEPHIS has released three NERICA rice varieties, Nerica1, Nerica 4 and Nerica11,
to farmers in Kenya. She was involved in conservation of endangered species
and biodiversity research where she was a co-researcher in the establishment of
Botanic Garden, Glass house and herbarium at Maseno University. This project
was sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research,
under the BIOTA-East Africa, E12 project 2001-2012, on vegetation, regeneration
and ethno-Botany of East African Mountain Forests. Currently 20% of the plants
conserved at the garden are African indigenous vegetables a contribution from
Professor Abukutsa. She has conducted extensive and pioneering research on
African indigenous vegetables that has contributed to them being recognized
by funding agencies, policy makers, educators, health workers, nutritionists and
supermarkets and five star hotels and hospitals raising their status from weeds to
internationally recognized vegetables. Her work has identified several indigenous
vegetables with high nutrition and economic potentials.
Professor Abukutsa’s outstanding research work is evidenced by her numerous
publications, 30 papers in refereed journals, 40 in refereed scientific conference
proceedings and contribution to five book chapters and one University level
Book. She initiated the African Indigenous Vegetable Research working group in
1991 at JKUAT and in 1996 at Maseno University. In this initiative Prof Abukutsa,
as Principal Investigator has successfully developed and implemented over 15
multidisciplinary research projects and attracted funds from reputable National,
Regional and International funding agencies. The funding agencies include, Jomo
Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology’s Research Production and
Extension [RPE] funds, Maseno University’s Institute of Research and Postgraduate
Studies [IRPS] African Highland Initiative [AHI], SIDA-SAREC through IPGRI
now Bioversity International. Lake Victoria Research Initiative, [VicRes, SIDA-
9
Strategic Repositioning in the Horticultural Sector
SAREC,IUCEA] Project, International Foundation for science [IFS], European
Commission [EU] and Commission for Higher Education [CHE] as the major
ones.
Awards and Recognitions
Besides, Prof Abukutsa has won several Awards and Recognitions for her scholarly
work, the most notable ones include:
Recognition to showcase of her research on indigenous vegetables to US Secretary
of State, Hillary Clinton on 5th August 2009 at NARL-KARI during her visit to
Kenya;
Recognition by African Union for winning First Prize and RUFORUM trophy for
Africa wide CTA/FARA/ ATPS/RUFORUM/ NEPAD/AGRA Young Professionals and
Women scientist Research Competition in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, April 2009
The CGIAR Science Award for Outstanding Communications by the Consultative
Group in Agricultural Research (CGIAR) in 2007 for the work done by the “Team
members of the African Leafy Vegetable Project”
American Ambassador’s Girl-child School Calendar project in 2006 as a role
model from Nyanza Province
The Rockefeller Gender and Diversity mentoring program (FELLOWSHIP) 2005-
2007;
An Award of the International Scientist of the year 2002 by International
Biographical centre, Cambridge, England.
Awarded Certificate of Excellence in recognition of outstanding Performance at
the Sixth KARI Scientific Conference for Second best overall presentation (Non-
KARI Scientist) in Nairobi 1999.
Prof Abukutsa’s Mission Statement Reads as follows:
“I am committed to Live, Learn and Provide Excellent Service with Integrity, Love, Joy,
Kindness, Humility and Honesty so that I am Optimally used for Worthy Purposes in
the Community and Leave a Legacy
10 AFRICAN INDIGENOUS VEGETABLES IN KENYA
Abstract
The year, 2010 has been declared the International Year of Biodiversity by the United
Nations to celebrate diversity of plants and animals. Horticultural biodiversity
including African Indigenous Vegetables (AIVs) that used to form an integral part of
Kenyan diets should be part of this celebration. However, with the introduction of
exotic temperate crops like cabbage, indigenous greens lost popularity in Kenya and
started to be regarded as ‘weeds’ and `poor man’s food. With 60% of the Kenyan
population living below the poverty line, resulting in malnutrition and poor health,
there is need for a paradigm shift in the production patterns to harness the nutrition
and economic potential of indigenous vegetables. In recent years, Kenyans have
seen an increase in diet related ailments such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes
and anaemia. Indigenous vegetables are micro nutrient dense and could prove
a powerful weapon in the fight against poverty and malnutrition since they are
suited to local conditions. However, a number of factors have conspired against
sustainable production and use of these greens including negative perception,
poor quality seed, lack of technical packages, poor marketing and high perishability
affecting their strategic repositioning in the Horticultural sector. To raise the status
of indigenous vegetables, this professorial inaugural lecture will take you through
a journey of pioneering research initiated at JKUAT and Maseno Universities in
the early 1990s by Prof Abukutsa. The programme which continues today has
yielded tangible achievements over the years including the following: AIVs with
nutrition and economic potential selected; germplasm collected, characterized and
evaluated; quality seed packaged and availed; technical protocols developed and
disseminated; seed support systems established; AIVs promoted; capacity built;
conservation done; product prototypes developed. These achievements have led to
increased production and availability. Although there is reason for some celebration,
the future focus is envisaged to be the development of good agricultural practices
(GAP), efficient seed delivery system, breeding, conservation, commercialization,
processing, value addition and product development of indigenous vegetables in
Kenya. African Indigenous Vegetables have a crucial part to play in revolutionizing
the Horticultural sector for food security, nutrition, income and sustainable
development in Kenya. It is therefore, time to strategically reposition AIVs in the
horticultural sector and restore their lost glory.
Key words: African indigenous vegetables, horticulture, biodiversity,
repositioning.
11
Strategic Repositioning in the Horticultural Sector
1.0. Introduction
1.1 Background:
This second Professorial inaugural lecture at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture
and Technology is in the discipline of Horticulture. Horticulture is a name derived
from two Latin words hortus, and cultura meaning “garden” and “cultivation”
respectively. It is a branch of the larger agricultural discipline and deals with the
science or art of cultivating vegetables, fruits, flowers and ornamental plants,
shrubs and trees. Horticulture originally meant the practice of gardening and, by
extension, now means the cultivation of plants once grown in gardens. In contrast,
the term agriculture, by derivation, referred to more open forms of culture such
as the production of grains and grasses, known as agronomic crops, which are
cultivated on a large scale. The original distinctions have been so blurred that many
crops formerly considered either agronomic or horticultural are now categorized
sometimes in one field, sometimes in the other, depending on the intended use of
the crop. Thus a plant grown for home consumption may be called horticultural;
the same plant cultivated for forage is regarded as an agronomic crop. Horticulture
includes the growing and production of vegetable crops, called olericulture;
fruit (especially tree fruits), known as pomology; production of flowers, termed
floriculture; and ornamental horticulture, known also as landscape gardening,
which includes the maintenance and design of home grounds, public gardens
and parks, private estates, botanical gardens, and recreational areas such as golf
courses, football fields, and baseball diamonds. Agricultural scholars, writers
and main stream horticulturalists considered and positioned African Indigenous
vegetables as weeds classical examples: vegetable amaranths, has been referred to
as pigweed, black jack which is a delicacy in Zambia has widely been known as a
weed. Even with the current presence of spiderplant in mainstream super markets
in Kenya and Tanzania as a vegetable publications still refer to them as spider
weed (HCDA, 2008).
1.2 Food Security and Nutrition
Food insecurity and malnutrition is an issue of concern in Kenya (GoK, 1999)
and other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Over 60% of the rural population live
below the poverty line, resulting in malnutrition, poor health and inadequate
access to basic necessities. Nearly 3 billion people or half of the world population
live on less than two dollars a day, of these, 1.2 billion live on less than one dollar
a day. The situation is particularly pathetic in Sub Saharan Africa where nearly half
of the population live on less than one dollar a day. Africa is where the share of
12 AFRICAN INDIGENOUS VEGETABLES IN KENYA
the population that is undernourished is highest in the world as indicated in Figure
1. Despite very good economic growth rates over the past decade, the continent
continues to face serious challenges meeting its Millenium Development Goal
(MDG) on hunger and poverty. Poverty is defined by the poor themselves as
a situation where one cannot afford goods and services such as food, clothing,
housing, health care and education.Malnutrition in children is manifested in
various forms and it has been reported that over 50% of the Kenyan children under
five years are underweight, stunted or are suffering from iron-deficiency anaemia.
The most serious malnutrition problems are a result of inadequate consumption of
micronutrients normally referred to as ‘hidden hunger’. Micronutrient malnutrition
results in impaired intellectual development, anaemia, blindness, and mortality in
children; and is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes,
obesity and decreased worker productivity. The paradox is that while these
malnutrition problems are prevalent, Kenya and other African regions on the
continent are endowed with agricultural biodiversity (Schippers, 2000), which
could significantly contribute to resolution of the problem .
The Policy Paper on the Horticultural Industry in Kenya describes the outcomes
of accelerating the growth of horticultural production: as improving food security,
earning foreign exchange, generating employment and income, alleviating poverty
and enhancing development in arid and semi-arid areas. It also sets out a range of
strategies to accelerate the growth of the industry: improvement of infrastructure
such as roads, telecommunication, irrigation and electricity supply; financing;
supply of inputs; extension services; and research. With regard to vegetable
production, the GoK aims to increase production of quality vegetables, diversify
varieties, improve post-harvest technology, register nurseries for plant propagation,
and set quality standards for the domestic market. The policy environment in
Kenya is therefore conducive to initiatives supporting further development of the
horticultural sector with vision 2030 in place. Africa is very diverse in climate,
agro-ecologies, topography, altitudes, agrobiodiversity and this calls for a uniquely
African Green Revolution that can accommodate these challenges of diversity.
13
Strategic Repositioning in the Horticultural Sector
Figure 1: Proportion of undernourished people in various parts of the world
Source: FAO, 2005
1.3 The Role of Horticulture Sector
Agriculture remains the mainstay economic activity in Kenya accounting for
over 24% of Gross Domestic Product, though only 20% of the land suitable for
cultivation. Farming in Kenya is typically carried out by small scale producers that
account for over 70% of the total production. The agriculture sector provides the
basis for subsistence for the majority of the population and it is a primary source of
foreign exchange earnings, with horticultural products, tourism, and tea being the
leading forex earners. Horticulture sector has grown in the last decade to become
the most vibrant industry and a major foreign exchange earner, employer and
source of food in the country.The sector employs millions of people directly and
indirectly, majority of whom are women. Table 1 shows the overall horticultural
production and value between 2005 and 2007, while the quantities produced
did not change significantly, the period realized a steady increase in the value
of horticultural produce from KShs101,188,370 in 2005 to KShs 119,700,734
in 2007 as shown in Table 1 with vegetables contributing over 40% of the total
value.
Table 1: Overall Horticultural production (‘000) and values (Million KShs)
Product Quantity ‘000MTs Value Million KES
2005 2006 2007 2005 2006 2007
Vegetables 4,533,352 4,327,375 4,337,883 46,221,364 45,627,283 48,191,578
Fruits 2,463,984 2,478,570 2,547,339 34,184,178 37,349,857 39,338,356
Nuts 97,582 116,571 102,035 4,407,100 5,224,260 4,600,200
14 AFRICAN INDIGENOUS VEGETABLES IN KENYA
Product Quantity ‘000MTs Value Million KES
Flower 102,348 113,461 114,878 16,375,728 22,692,268 27,570,600
Total 7,197,266 7,035,977 7,102,135 101,188,370 110,893,668 119,700,734
Source: HCDA, 2008
Of the total production only 20% of horticultural produce was exported
contributing between 44 and 58 billion Kenya Shillings. In 2008, the value of
horticultural produce exported both fresh and processed was about KSH 74
billion of this about 30% were from vegetables where Kenya is the second largest
exporter of vegetables to the European Union.
There is a distinct export and domestic market for horticultural products. There
has been a marked increase in the volume of product types and volumes handled
by super markets, greengrocers and other outlets outside Nairobi. Although
some indigenous vegetables like African nightshades, vegetable amaranths and
spiderplant are found in the domestic markets the demand is still largely unsatisfied.
Percentage contribution of indigenous vegetables to the value of vegetables in
the domestic market rose from 4% in 2001 to 10% in 2007 according to HCDA
(2008) and yet none is exported.
1.4. The Role of Agricultural Biodiversity
The United Nations proclaimed 2010 to be the International Year of Biodiversity,
and people all over the world are working to safeguard this irreplaceable natural
wealth and reduce biodiversity loss. This is vital for current and future human
wellbeing. We need to do more. Now is the time to act. The International Year
of Biodiversity is a unique opportunity to increase understanding of the vital role
that biodiversity plays in sustaining life on Earth. We are an integral part of nature;
our fate is tightly linked with biodiversity, the huge variety of other animals and
plants, the places they live and their surrounding environments, all over the world.
We rely on this diversity of life to provide us with the food, fuel, medicine and
other essentials we simply cannot live without. Yet this rich diversity is being lost
at a greatly accelerated rate because of human activities. This impoverishes us
all and weakens the ability of the living systems, on which we depend, to resist
growing threats such as climate change. Agricultural biodiversity—the diversity
of animals and plants that underpins agriculture—is critical to human survival
but is significantly undervalued. The United Nations has declared 2010 to be the
International Year of Biodiversity, promising a wealth of opportunities for raising
awareness of the role that biodiversity plays in the lives of people and the special
importance of agricultural biodiversity need to be most prominent. Climate change
and increasing pressures on agricultural land are putting at risk the very tool that
15
Strategic Repositioning in the Horticultural Sector
can help farmers adapt to these challenges: agricultural biodiversity. Bioversity
International is mounting a global awareness campaign—Diversity for Life—which
will gain momentum during 2010, the International Year of Biodiversity. Diversity
for Life will undertake a range of communications and educational activities
targeting policymakers, the media and schools in a number of countries around
the world. The campaign will provide an opportunity for consistent advocacy
of key objectives—for example that people should diversify their diets and that
policymakers should integrate the conservation and use of biodiversity into
national poverty reduction strategies and plans.
Diversity for Life tells the stories of people whose passion for diversity is helping—
in small ways and large—to create a healthier, more food secure world. It focuses
on the images and stories of the Guardians of Diversity: individuals who have
dedicated their lives to safeguarding the diversity of plants and animals and making
sure that it is used by people to improve their lives. Africa abounds in agricultural
biodiversity resources – genetic resources, crop species, trees, fish, livestock, as
well as microbes, pollinators, and production environments. The legend of African
Indigenous vegetables will contribute to this celebration and offer some strategies
for the African green revolution.
Despite stigmatization of African Indigenous Vegetables, they have played a very
important role in food security and nutrition on the African continent. There
is a dire need currently to strategically reposition indigenous vegetables in the
horticultural sector so that their potential can be fully exploited for food nutrition
and income generation and contribute in achieving vision 2030 and Millenium
development goals. Re-positioning involves changing the identity of a product,
relative to the identity of competing products, in the collective minds of the target
market. Strategic repositioning is seeking to exploit opportunities or deliberate
influence of any audience of significance without controlling them.
1.5 Objectives of the Lecture
Present an overview of my Research on African Indigenous Vegetables and inform my academic peers, students research collaborators, policy makers,
development partners and the public about research results achieved
Discuss my contribution in Strategic Repositioning of African Indigenous Vegetables in the Horticulture Sector
Discuss the significance of the research to development in general and its implications for the discipline of Horticulture, the impact on society and
improving livelihoods and prosperity of humans.
16 AFRICAN INDIGENOUS VEGETABLES IN KENYA
Suggest future research directions and its implications to the discipline
Suggest ways to engage with local industry and businesses, as well as with the wider general public
17
Strategic Repositioning in the Horticultural Sector
2.0 African Indigenous Vegetables
2.1 Historical Perspective of African Indigenous
Vegetables
Africans have traditionally made use of edible leaves of species growing wild as
weeds whose origin was in the African continent. These vegetables were well
known to the rural people and were often planted in home gardens as intercrops
with staples and could find their way to local markets. For some traditional
vegetables, wild collection is still practiced in many parts of Africa especially
Southern Africa. Some work done in selected countries in Africa has identified some
of the traditional vegetables that are utilized throughout the continent and could
be developed as cultivated crops. Some of the indigenous vegetables that were
consumed on the African continent include vegetable amaranths, (Amaranthus
species), spiderplant (Cleome gynandra), African vegetable nightshades (Solanum
species), cowpeas (Vigna unguiculata), African eggplant (Solanum aethiopicum),
African kale (Brassica carinata) and jute mallow (Corchorus olitorius) as indicated
in Table 2 (Schippers, 2000). The use of these vegetables was part of cultural
heritage, playing a significant role in customs and traditions and in maintaining
equity within the family structure since the appearance on the family table
depends largely on the activities of women (Mnzava, 1997). The introduction
of exotic vegetables in the African continent had some negative impact on the
consumption and domestication (cultivation) of indigenous vegetables. During
the colonial time, a deliberate suppression of the indigenous vegetables was done
and a lot of efforts were made to promote the exotic vegetables such as cabbage.
The net effect of such suppression flowed into the post independent era where
the governments perpetuated the agricultural policies developed by the colonial
rulers. It is only very recently that there has been a significant interest toward
Africa’s indigenous vegetables grown in home or backyard gardens. Even in the
area of crop research, indigenous vegetables have only won some recognition
recently at the International, regional and National institutions. These institutions
include AVRDC-The World Vegetable Center –Regional Center for Africa in Arusha,
Tanzania, International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI)-now Bioversity
International, Nairobi and ICRAF-World Agroforestry Centre, Plant Resources of
Tropical Africa (PROTA), National Agricultural Research Centres (Kenya Agricultural
Research Institute (KARI), National Museums of Kenya (NMK)) and Universities in
various countries (Maseno, Moi, Egerton, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture
and Technology in Kenya, Makerere and Mbarara University of Science and
Technology in Uganda, Sokoine University of Agriculture, and Dar es salaam
18 AFRICAN INDIGENOUS VEGETABLES IN KENYA
in Tanzania Dscsshang in Cameroon, Hannover in Germany and University of
Greenwich in UK) and IndigenoVeg research group, Ministry of Agriculture and
Non-Governmental Organization among others.
African indigenous vegetables (AIVs) have been grown and utilized traditionally by
many African communities and possess several advantages and potentials that have
not been fully exploited (Schippers, 2000). African indigenous vegetables can be
defined as those vegetables whose primary or secondary centre of origin is known
to be in Africa (Schippers, 2000). Vegetables whose secondary centre of origin
is Africa may be refered to as ‘African traditional vegetables’ (Schippers, 2000).
However, the word traditional is used when indigenous or introduced species
which due to long use have become part of the culture of a people. Vegetables
are a vital component of human diet as they provide essential micronutrients
that ensure proper development of the human body and good health (Abukutsa-
Onyango, 2007a). Vegetables have also been known to contain substantial amounts
of chemicals normally classified as anti-oxidants. These chemicals are essential for
scavenging for and binding harmful radicals in the body if left unchecked could
cause diseases like cancer and diabetes.
Table 2: Some African Indigenous Vegetable found on the continent
Common Name Botanical Name
AMARANTHACEAE
Amaranths Amaranthus blitum/lividus
Amaranthus cruentus/hybridus
Amaranthus dubius, A.hypocondriacus
LEGUMINOSAE
Slenderleaf Crotalaria brevidens/ochroleuca
Cowpea leaves Vigna unguiculata
SOLANACEAE
African nightshades Solanum scabrum/villosum/ americanum
African eggplant Solanum aethiopicum/anguivi/macrocarpon
CAPPARACEAE
Spiderplant Cleome/Gynandropsis gynandra
TILIACEAE
Jute Mallow Corchorus olitorius
Corchorus tricularis
19
Strategic Repositioning in the Horticultural Sector
CRUCIFERAE
African kale Brassica carinata
CUCURBITACEAE
Pumpkin leaves Cucurbita moschata
Cucurbita maxima
ASTERACEAE
Common bitterleaf Vernonia amygdalina
Sweet bitterleaf Vernonia hymenolepis
BASELLACEAE
White vine spinach Basella alba
Red vine spinach Basella rubra
MALVACEAE
West African okra Abelmoschus caillei
Common okra Abelmoschus esculentus
Roselle (purple) Hibiscus sabdafiffa var sabdariffa
Source, Schippers, 2000 and Abukutsa-Onyango, 2003.
2.2 Value and Potential of African Indigenous Vegetables
2.2.1 Nutritive Value
African indigenous vegetables have high nutritive value. They contain high levels
of minerals especially calcium, Iron and Phosphorus. They also contain significant
amounts of vitamins and proteins (Mnzava, 1997). In most cases the mineral
and vitamin contents is equivalent to or higher than that found in popular exotic
vegetables like cabbage as shown in Table 3. On average 100g of fresh vegetable
contain levels of calcium, iron and vitamins that would provide 100% of the
daily requirement and 40% for the proteins (Abukutsa-Onyango, 2003). African
indigenous vegetables are therefore a valuable source of nutrition in rural areas
where they contribute substantially to protein, mineral and vitamin intake (Mnzava,
1997). They are compatible to use with starchy staples and represent cheap but
quality nutrient source to the poor sector of the population in both urban and rural
areas where malnutrition is widespread. Healthy people need a balanced diet
consisting not just of starchy foods but also protein and micronutrient rich foods.
20 AFRICAN INDIGENOUS VEGETABLES IN KENYA
People often consider vegetables to be of limited importance, mainly because
they are not aware of the nutritive value. This is a clear misconception because the
human body needs major minerals like iron, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium as
well as trace elements and vitamins that are essential for the health of the people,
especially vitamins such as ß-carotene and ascorbic acid.
The nutrient content of these vegetables could be affected by several other factors
like stage of growth, storage, cooking, processing and these factors need to be
investigated if the nutritional potential is to be fully exploited. Loss of between 57%
and 78% of Vitamin C after 30 minutes of cooking has been reported. For the case
of vitamin A, there is low conversion rate of beta-carotene to retinol equivalent the
form in which vitamin A is utilized in humans. In case of mineral nutrients such as
calcium, iron and zinc the bioavailability is not assured as certain phyto chemicals
like phytates bind them making them unavailable (Makokha and Ombwara, 2005).
There is need for studies on bioavailability of such micronutrients.
Table 3: Nutrient content of 100 g fresh weight edible portion of some
indigenous and exotic leafy vegetables
______________________________________________________________________________________
Protein (%) Ca (mg) Fe (mg) Vit A (mg) Vit C (mg
)
______________________________________________________________________________________
Indigenous Vegetables
Amaranthus spp (amaranths) 4.0 480 10 10.7 135
Cleome gynandra (spiderplant) 5.1 262 19 8.7 144
Solanum villosum (nightshade) 4.6 442 12 8.8 131
Vigna Unguiculata (cowpea) 4.7 152 39 5.7 8.7
Curcubita moschata (pumpkin) 3.1 40 2.1 3.9 170
Corchorus olitorius (jute mallow) 4.5 360 7.7 6.4 187
Exotic vegetables -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Brassica oleracea
Var. acephala (kale) -- 187 32 7.3 93
Var. capitata (cabbage) 1.4 44 -- 1.2 33
Lactuca sativa (lettuce) 1.2 62 2.2 0.04 18
Spinacia oleracea (spinach) 2.3 93 32 5.1 28
Recommended Daily Allowance 95 1.4 20 12 45
______________________________________________________________________________________
Source : Maundu et al, 1999, Abukutsa-Onyango 2003.
21
Strategic Repositioning in the Horticultural Sector
2.2.2 Medicinal value and Health benefits
African Indigenous Vegetables have medicinal properties as they are usually bitter
and some have been known to heal stomach-related ailments (Olembo et al.,
1995). Most of such vegetables have been reported to have medicinal properties
(Kokwaro, 1993, Olembo et al., 1995) for instance spiderplant has been reported
to aid constipation and facilitate birth while African nightshades has been reported
to cure stomachache. Limited information available on the mode of preparation
suggest that the presence of undesirable chemical compounds in these potential
crops cannot be overruled. Most of the indigenous vegetables have been reported
to contain anti-nutrient factors. Oxalates found in Amaranthaceae and Solanaceae
vegetables may bind calcium and render it unavailable, Alkaloids found in the
bitter types of Crotalaria and Solanum species may cause stomach-ache if eaten
in excess, Spiderplants contain phenolic compounds which bind proteins thereby
reducing the nutritional value of the vegetable. The smell of spiderplant caused by
an acrid volatile oil has a high phenolic content and glucosinolates which interfere
with iodine metabolism as occurs in Brassica carinata. These factors need to be
investigated as some of the phenols can be anti-oxidants
Due to the limitations mentioned above, successful commercial exploitation of
African Indigenous Vegetables, need to be explored. Another area that could
be exploited is phyto-chemicals or Nutraceuticals which are biologically active,
non-nutrient compounds that provide health benefits. These phytochemicals help
promote optimal health by lowering risk of occurrence of chronic diseases like
cancer. Some of the phytochemicals are called antioxidants, scavenge for and bind
free radicals that occur in the body these radicals could cause cancer and other
ailments if left unchecked. Further investigation need to be done to elucidate the
medicinal properties of these African indigenous vegetables.
2.2.3 Agronomic Advantages
Indigenous vegetables are well adapted to harsh climatic conditions and disease
infestation and are easier to grow in comparison to their exotic counterparts.
African indigenous vegetables can produce seed under tropical conditions unlike
the exotic vegetables. They have a short growth period with most of them being
vegetables ready for harvesting within 3-4 weeks, and respond very well to
organic fertilizers. Most of them have an in built ability to withstand and tolerate
some biotic and abiotic stresses. They can also flourish under sustainable and
environmental friendly cropping conditions like intercropping and use of organics.
Furthermore, because most of them have not been intensively selected, they have
wide genetic bases, which will be important in sourcing for new genotypes and/or
genes for adaptation to climate change
22 AFRICAN INDIGENOUS VEGETABLES IN KENYA
2.2.4 Income Generation and employment opportunities
African indigenous vegetables have considerable potential as as cash income
earners, enabling the poorest people in the rural communities to earn a living
(Schippers, 2000, Onyango, 2003).
Socio-economic survey on traditional vegetables conducted in various parts of Africa
particularly in Central, Western and Eastern Africa (Abukutsa-Onyango, 2002;
Schippers 2000) revealed that indigenous vegetables are important commodities
in household food security. They provide employment opportunities and generate
income for the rural population. There appears to be a high demand of indigenous
vegetables in cities and major towns, making the intensive production in and
around the towns and trading of the same important sources of household income
for the urban poor and the unemployed. Over 70% of the traded vegetables in
rural markets were indigenous vegetables while in bigger towns was about 10% .
However, there was generally a poor marketing system in some of the countries.
(Abukutsa-Onyango, 2002, Schippers, 2000)
2.3 Constraints to optimal Production and Utilization of
AIVs
2.3.1: Neglect and Stigmatization
Changed food habits in favour of introduced temperate vegetables lowered the
demand of indigenous vegetables, due to the fact that the former fetched higher
prices in local markets. Indigenous vegetables were considered out of fashion,
poor man’s food that could only be used as a last resort. Thus they enjoyed less
social prestige, being associated with the low-income group. As the poor sought
to imitate the eating habits of the affluent and were exposed to more fashionable
exotic species, the indigenous species became neglected. The neglect and
stigmatization was perpetuated by stakeholders like the policy makers, agricultural
training institutions, traders, researchers, consumers and the traders. (Mnzava,
1997). Having been branded and denoted by the agriculturalists and researchers
as weeds, the tendency was to eradicate them and not conserve them as it
were. This trend started changing gradually after the promotion and sensitization
workshops that were held in Nairobi, Limbe and Maseno in 1995, 1997 and 2003
respectively. (Guarino, 1997, Schippers and Budd, 1997 and Abukutsa-Onyango
et al. 2005)
23
Strategic Repositioning in the Horticultural Sector
2.3.2: Inadequate awareness of the value and potential of
AIVs
Lack of awareness of the merits and opportunities of indigenous of vegetables
was due to negative attitudes developed by all stakeholders. Although there
were indications that indigenous vegetables had some great attributes many
stakeholders did not take the facts seriously. This therefore called for deliberate
awareness campaigns to promote these indigenous vegetables. This started in the
early 1990’s and intensified with time
2.3.3: Lack of Quality Seed
Lack of quality seed has been a major hinderance to sustainable production and
utilization of indigenous vegetables. Some of the vegetables perpetuate themselves
untended, they were harvested whenever they occurred and this system of seed
procurement heavily depended on the soil borne seed pool and the ability of
these species to reseed themselves. Seed production has for a long time virtually
remained in the hands of farmers, although seed sale in markets was common.
For a very long time these vegetables were harvested from the wild, but as the
pressure on land increased, they were domesticated and the need for quality seed
set in. Normally AIVs are grown as a subsistence crop and most farmers save their
own seed from season to season, and sell surplus to other growers. The quality of
such seeds is poor in terms of purity, viability and seed dormancy issues. There is
need for production and supply of quality seed to increase yields and quantities
produced to meet the unsatisfied market demands of priority indigenous vegetables
especially in urban centres
2.3.4: Lack of Agronomic and Utilization technical
packages
Indigenous vegetables have often been grown as intercrops with other vegetables
or staples, however there has been hardly any technical information on optimal
production and appropriate cropping systems. There has been lack of agronomic
and preparation packages and access to technical information has been very
limited, therefore extension workers have limited knowledge to advise indigenous
vegetable growers. This necessitated research on development of optimal
production packages for indigenous vegetables and recipe development
24 AFRICAN INDIGENOUS VEGETABLES IN KENYA
2.3.5: Short Shelf Life and Lack of Preservation and
Processing technologies
Most of the African Leafy vegetables are highly perishable with a shelf life of less
than 24 hours at room temperature. This problem would affect quality of the
produce at the market and to overcome this problem preservation and processing
technologies need to be developed
2.3.6: Poor Marketing Strategies
Marketing of indigenous vegetables has been poor dis- organized leading to great
losses of the produce in transit or in markets. The major constraints of marketing
include: abundance of vegetables during the rainy season leading to low prices
and scarcity during the dry season; exploitation of traders due to lack of market
information; lack of inadequate market and transport infrastructure. This calls
for identification and creation of markets for indigenous vegetables and possibly
linking farmers/farmer groups to appropriate markets
2.3.7: Consequences of the constraints
The consequences of the constraints were low production and poor distribution
of indigenous vegetables. Farmers achieved very low yields of 1–3 tonnes per
hectare, far below the optimal levels that range from 20 to 40 tonnes per hectare
(Abukutsa-Onyango, 2003) leading to low consumption and utilization resulting
in loss of biodiversity. Increased and sustainable production and utilization of
AIVs can be attained by ensuring supply of quality seed and development
of environment-friendly production and utilization technologies. Improved
production technologies like spacing, fertilizer rates and use of organic sources
of manure will lead to increased yields and improved nutrition and economic
empowerment of the rural communities in Kenya and other parts of Africa, and in
urban and periurban regions.
25
Strategic Repositioning in the Horticultural Sector
3.0 Overview of Research Activities
3.1 Goal and Objectives of the Research on African
indigenous vegetables
Given the advantages and potential value of AIVs and the constraints that cutrail
their optimal production and utilization, a multi disciplinary AIVs research
programme was initiated at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture & Technology
(JKUAT) in 1991 and Maseno University in 1996. The Goal was to contribute to
alleviation of food insecurity, malnutrition and poverty in Kenya and other African
countries by raising the status of African indigenous vegetables. The aim of the
Programme was to promote sustainable production and utilization of African
indigenous vegetables for nutrition and wealth creation. Specific objectives were
to:
Develop multidisciplinary projects on AIVs and solicit for funding
Identify priority AIVs with nutritional and economic potential
Collect, characterize, evaluate and multiply germplasm of priority AIVs
Conduct Agronomic, physiological and Nutritional studies on priority AIVs
Develop and evaluate recipes and products of African Indigenous Vegetables.
3.2: Multidisciplinary Projects Undertaken on African
Indigenous Vegetables.
Fifteen (15) national, regional and international research projects were undertaken
between 1992 and 2009 on various aspects of African Indigenous Vegetables. This
was achieved by developing over 20 research proposals and soliciting for funding,
with 15 of these ultimately receiving funding. Table 4 shows eleven of the projects
undertaken three of which were funded by the Government of Kenya, seven by
international funding agencies, and one was self-funded. Three of these projects
also covered other African countries and the remaining six were in Kenya.
3.3: Priority African Indigenous Vegetables with Nutritional and Economic Potential.
Priority AIVs in Kenya, East African region and Sub Saharan Africa were identified
through a series of household, baseline and market surveys in various countries.
Sampling methods included systematic, random, stratified and purposive sampling
schemes using checklists and structured questionnaires. The nine priority African
leafy vegetables grown and consumed in Vihiga, Kisumu and Kisii districts of
26 AFRICAN INDIGENOUS VEGETABLES IN KENYA
Western Kenya in order of priority were spiderplant, African nightshade, pumpkin,
cowpea, amaranths, jute mallow, slenderleaf and African kale which represented
seven botanical families (Abukutsa-Onyango 2007 a). The most important African
indigenous vegetables marketed in Kakamega, Chavakali and Kiboswa markets in
western Kenya included cowpeas, vegetable amaranths, African nightshade, jute
mallow, spiderplant, slenderleaf, African kale and pumpkin (Abukutsa-Onyango,
2002). Priority AIVs grown and marketed in urban and peri-urban Nairobi
were African nightshade, vegetable amaranths, vegetable cowpea, spiderplant,
pumpkin, African kale, jute mallow, stinging nettle and slenderleaf and in Kisumu
city, vegetable cowpeas, spiderplant, African nightshade, slenderleaf, jute mallow,
vegetable amaranths, pumpkin leaves and African kale were identified (Abukutsa-
Onyango et al. 2007a).
Priority AIVs in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania using five criteria as shown in Table
5 included: cowpea, African nightshade, Vegetable amaranths, spiderplant,
pumpkin, slendeleaf, African kale, jute mallow, African eggplant, cucumber, Vine
spinach and moringa (Abukutsa-Onyango et al., 2006). Plate 1 shows the top eight
priority species.
In a survey of small scale processing of AIVs, total thirty four (39) processors were
identified in Bondo (5) and Mbarara(14) and Magu (20). The female respondents
constituted 71%. Of the total number interviewed. One small scale processor was
identified at Bondo site. She was processing cowpea leaves by sun drying during
the rainy season to be used for home consumption during the dry season. In
Uganda the vegetables were harvested dried in the sun, pounded and packed in
polythene bags and sealed. These were then utilized during periods of scarcity but
not for commercial purposes. The main vegetables processed included cowpeas,
vegetable amaranths and African nightshade in Bondo, vegetable amaranths,
African nightshade, bitter berries and scarlet eggplant in Mbarara and cowpeas in
Magu. In Uganda the vegetables were harvested dried in the sun, pounded and
packed in polythene bags and sealed. These were then utilized during periods of
scarcity but not for commercial purposes. The processing methods used by small
scale farmers need to be validated in the laboratory for quality and food safety.
(Abukutsa-Onyango et al., 2006)
Table 4: Projects on African Indigenous Vegetables between 1991 and 2008
Title of Project Funding Agency Year & Location
1 Viability, growth and seed
production study of six indigenous
vegetables
JKUAT 1992, Western
Kenya
27
Strategic Repositioning in the Horticultural Sector
Title of Project Funding Agency Year & Location
2 Response of some African traditional
vegetables to organic and inorganic
fertilizer application
African Highlands
Initiative and Maseno
University
1997, Western
Kenya
3 Effect of nitrogen rates on growth
and yield of slenderleaf (Crotalaria
brevidens)
Maseno University 1997 in Western
Kenya
4 Market Survey on African Indigenous
Vegetables in Western Kenya Self-funded 2001 Western
Kenya
5. Vegetation Regeneration and ethno-
botany of East African Mountain
Forests
Federal Republic of
Germany under BIOTA
East Africa Project
2001-2012
Western Kenya
6 Germplasm management of African
leafy vegetables for the nutritional
and food security needs of the
vulnerable groups in Sub-Saharan
Africa
IPGRI now Bioversity
International 2001 to2005
Kenya and 4
other African
countries
7 Intercropping African kale with
other selected African indigenous
vegetables for sustainable production
in the Lake Victoria region
International
Foundation for Science 2004 to 2008
Kenya
8 Development of appropriate
farming technologies for sustainable
production and utilization of AIVs
for improved land use in the Lake
Victoria basin
SIDA-SAREC (VICRES) 2005 to 2009
Kenya, Uganda
& Tanzania
9 Networking to promote the
sustainable production and
marketing of indigenous vegetables
through urban and peri-urban
Agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa
European Commission 2006 to 2008
7 African and 5
EU countries
10 Assessment of water use efficiency
of bambara groundnut (Vigna
subterranean) for food and nutrition
security in Kenya
CHE 2007 ongoing
11 Assessment of water use efficiency
of Slenderleaf (Crotalaria ochroleuca)
for food, nutrition and health
security
JKUAT 2008 ongoing
28 AFRICAN INDIGENOUS VEGETABLES IN KENYA
Market surveys conducted in fourteen cities in seven African countries Kenya,
Uganda, Tanzania, South Africa, Benin, Ivory coast and Senegal indicated that
the priority AIVs were: Eastern Africa-vegetable cowpea, nightshade, amaranths,
spiderplant, pumpkin and jute mallow; Western Africa- vegetable amaranths,
African eggplant, jute mallow and okra and Southern Africa – vegetable amaranths,
okra, spiderplant, pumpkin leaves and cowpeas ( Abukutsa-Onyango et al., 2007
and Shackleton et al., 2009)
Table 5: Prioritization of indigenous vegetables in East Africa using five
criteria (the number of countries where they occur out of three)
AIVs Selection Criteria
Household
survey /3 Marketed
/3 Processed
/3 Researched and
promoted/3 Selection
from Lab /3 Total
/15
Cowpeas 3 2 2 3 3 13
Nightshade 2 2 2 3 2 11
Amaranths 3 1 2 3 2 11
Spiderplant 1 2 0 3 3 09
Pumpkin 3 0 0 3 2 08
Slenderleaf 1 1 0 3 1 06
African kale 1 1 0 2 1 05
Jute mallow 2 0 0 2 1 05
African
eggplant 1 1 1 2 0 05
Cucumber 1 0 0 2 0 03
Okra 0 0 0 1 0 01
Vine Spinach 0 0 0 1 0 01
Moringa 0 0 0 1 0 01
Source: Abukutsa-Onyango et al., 2006
29
Strategic Repositioning in the Horticultural Sector
a) Vegetable cowpea b) African nightshade
c) Vegetable amaranths d) Spiderplant
e) Pumpkin leaves f) Slenderleaf
g) African kale h) Jute mallow
Plate 1: Priority African Indigenous Vegetables with Nutrition and Economic
Potential
30 AFRICAN INDIGENOUS VEGETABLES IN KENYA
3.4: Germplasm, Collection, Evaluation,
Characterization and Multiplication of Priority AIVs
A total of 128 accessions were obtained by collecting seeds each of eight
vegetable species in eight districts in western Kenya (Kisumu, Siaya, Vihiga, Butere-
Mumias, Kisii, Nyamira, Homa Bay and Bondo). Collected seeds were subjected
to laboratory analysis and field evaluation. Selection was based on the weight,
percentage germination and moisture content. Seeds of selected accessions of
spiderplant, African nightshade, jute mallow, slenderleaf, vegetable cowpea
and African kale were multiplied, evaluated and packaged for a test run of seed
distribution (Abukutsa-Onyango, 2007b). The seed yields ranged from 1.1 to 1.4
tons per hectare with a thousand seed weight of 1.0 to 100g. Only 12% of the
70 contact farmers to whom seed was distributed were able to produce quality
seed for their use using training provided by the project. Dipping seed in boiling
water for 10 seconds, soaking in water for 24 hours and soaking in 95% acetone
for 30 minutes, as seed treatment methods significantly improved germination in
spiderplant and African nightshade but not jute mallow
In another study in the East African region, a total of 95 accessions were collected in
Kenya representing nine different vegetable types. The selected top five vegetable
types were Vegetable Cowpea, Slenderleaf, Spiderplant, African kale and African
nightshades. In Uganda 95 accessions representing 9 vegetable types out of which
five priority vegetables were selected based on the evaluation results and these
included cowpea, slenderleaf, spiderplant, African kale and African nightshades.
For Tanzania 59 accessions were collected representing 8 vegetable types out of
which five priority vegetables based on the evaluation results and these included
vegetable cowpea, vegetable amaranths, pumpkin, spiderplant and jute mallow.
(Abukutsa-Onyango et al., 2005)
Fifty accessions of, the vegetable of choice, African nightshades (Solanum sec
solanum) from eastern, western and Southern Africa were characterized using
both morphological and cytological characters of the living material to distinguish
accessions belonging to different species and ploid y levels. The study revealed
the occurrence of nine Solanum section solanum species comprising a polyploidy
series with two diploid (Solanum americanum and Solanum chenopodioides),
five tetraploid (S.retroflexum, S. villosum, S.florulentum,S.grossidentatum and S.
tarderemotum) and two hexaploid (S.nigrum and S.scabrum). Further research is
needed to elucidate the taxonomic status of Solanum florulentum/tarderemotum
group as well as intra-specific variants of Solanum villosum,Solanum scabrum and
Solanum retroflexum.(Mwai et al., 2007) (Plates 2 & 3)
31
Strategic Repositioning in the Horticultural Sector
Figure 2: Clustering pattern of 50 African Solanum section Solanum accessions using
morphological and cytological descriptors. The dotted line demarcates variation
between (right) and within (left) species. 1: S. retroflexum; 2: S. grossidentatum; 3: S.
scabrum; 4: S. americanum; 5: S. tarderemotum; 6: S. florulentum; 7: S. chenopodioides;
8: S. villosum; 9: S. nigrum.
Si il i C ffi i
.35 0.41 0.48 0.54 0.60 0.66 0.73 0.79 0.85 0.92
884750135
A14750023
A14750022
A14750032
994750005
994750007
994750008
A14750030
A14750160
A14750165
A14750163
A14750153
A14750154
A14750162
994750016
A14750021
994750031
A14750135
A14750028
994750030
A14750031
A14750150
A14750151
A14750164
A14750166
A14750167
A14750173
A14750174
A14750184
A14750026
A14750025
A14750171
A14750029
A14750152
A14750180
A14750170
A14750161
A14750176
A14750169
A14750172
A14750175
A14750177
A14750178
A14750181
A14750033
A14750158
A14750159
A14750062
A14750156
A14750157
1
2
3
4
5
8a
6b
7
6a
8b
8c
9
Similarity Coefficient
Plate 2: Morphological features of purple-stemmed S. scabrum variant. Erect
growth habit; leaves medium (i) to large (ii); with varying intensities of purple
coloration. Flowers (iv) usually deep purple, with distinctly brown anthers.
32 AFRICAN INDIGENOUS VEGETABLES IN KENYA
Plate 3: Morphological features of large leaved S. scabrum variant. Erect habit;
leaves large (i and ii); few flowers/fruits per inflorescence (iii). Leaves and stems
green; flowers (iv) white with yellow anthers.
3.5: Agronomic, Physiological and Nutritional Studies
3.5.1: Agronomic Studies
African indigenous vegetables were reportedly grown mainly in home gardens,
mostly within the homestead. These are areas where the management practices
are easier and use of farm yard manure is facilitated. However hardy vegetables like
cowpea and slenderleaf could be grown in main cropping lands as intercrops. The
vegetables were cultivated at a subsistence level, in home gardens and intercrop
systems with organic manures where the use of chemical fertilizers and chemicals
was almost non-existent (Abukutsa-Onyango, 2007a).
Home gardens where most of indigenous vegetables are grown plays a significant
role in food security and nutrition in western Kenya according to Musotsi et
al.(2008) as most of the households had home gardens though they were poorly
maintained. It has also been demonstrated that growing indigenous vegetables in
home gardens will contribute significantly to household food security and nutrition
(Musotsi et al 2008)
Table 6 indicates that there is potential to use organic sources of fertilizer like
farm yard manure and tithonia leaf biomass without compromising the yield of
indigenous vegetables and they could increase yield five times compared to the
controls. The table also shows that organic and inorganic fertilizers may delay
33
Strategic Repositioning in the Horticultural Sector
flowering in spiderplant. However, jute mallow did not respond to the organic
and inorganic application of fertilizer an indication of its ability to thrive in low
fertility soils. (Abukutsa-Onyango,1999). Nitrogen application in the range of 0 to
100 kg/ha had no significant effect on growth, leaf and seed yield of slenderleaf
(Abukutsa-Onyango, 2007c), this gives an indication that slenderleaf can thrive in
low nitrogen soils probably due to its ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen. African
kale was found to be a suitable intercrop for cowpea, African nightshades,
spiderplant and slenderleaf as they had Land Equivalent Ratio (LER) greater than
one. It has been demonstrated that African kale is a suitable Intercrop with other
indigenous vegetables like cowpea, nightshade, spiderplant and amaranths (Oseko
et al., 2006 ). This is a system that could be exploited as it has several advantages
for sustainable production of a diversity of indigenous vegetables.
Table 6: The effect of sources of fertilizer on yield and %flowering of cowpea
and spiderplant at 8 weeks after sowing
_____________________________________________________________________________
Treatment Cowpea Spiderplant
Yield % Flowering Yield % Flowering
____________________________________________________________________________________
T1-Control 40 17 5 83
T2-Tithonia 120 2.4 40 40
T3-Tithonia+DAP 90 2.6 60 50
T4-Tithonia 55 5.3 10 65
T5-DAP +CAN 100 3.4 30 34
T6-Farmyard manure 150 0 45 36
Significant p0.05 p0.01 p0.05 ns
LSD 48 5.0 24 -
_____________________________________________________________________________
34 AFRICAN INDIGENOUS VEGETABLES IN KENYA
3.5.2: Physiological Studies
Topping which is the removal of the apical stem could be used to delay flowering
in those indigenous vegetables that flower early like spiderplant. Spiderplant
which normally flowers early within 4 weeks after planting responded to topping
by delayed flowering and increased branching and leaf yield as a result of removal
of apical dominance. Topping can be employed as an agronomic practice to delay
flowering increasing the yield of spiderplant. It has also been demonstrated that
spiderplant could tolerant medium salinity and could be grown in slightly saline
soils. Other studies have demonstrated that in Jute mallow (Abukutsa-Onyango et
al.,1999) spiderplant ( Mwai et al., 2007 ) and slenderleaf (Abukutsa-Onyango et
al., 2007c) can tolerant abiotic stresses like salinity,(Plate 4) low fertility and water
deficit. Studies were also initiated at JKUAT in 2008 on water use efficiency in
bambara nuts (Vigna subterranea) and slenderleaf (Crotalaria ochroleuca), which
are believed to possess tolerance traits to water deficit.
Plate 4: Response of spiderplant to salinity levels of 0,-0.3,-0.6. -0.9, and -1.2
MPa
3.5.3 Nutritional Studies
Nutritional evaluation of priority AIVs was conducted between 2004 and 2008
at both Maseno University and the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and
Technology in Kenya. Results indicated that the iron content of the vegetables
ranged from 14.7 mg/100g FW for slender leaf and 50.0 mg/100 FW for pumpkin
for the Maseno site and between 16 mg/100g FW for cowpeas and slender-leaf
and 50 mg/100g FW for pumpkin and nightshade for JKUAT site as shown in Table
7. The table also shows that iron contents found in all the vegetables contained
over 70% and 80% of the recommended daily requirement of iron for Maseno
35
Strategic Repositioning in the Horticultural Sector
and JKUAT respectively. The protein content of indigenous vegetables found could
contribute 18-54% of the recommended daily allowance.
Table 7: Iron and Protein Content of priority African indigenous vegetables in
two sites
Maseno University JKUAT
Vegetable___________________________________________________
Iron (mg/100gfw) %Protein Iron (mg/100gfw) %Protein
Nightshade 26.4 4.74 50.0 2.74
Amaranths 16.0 4.60 20.1 4.10
Spiderplant 16.0 4.54 18.6 4.80
Cowpea 24.1 4.80 16.4 4.30
Pumpkin 50.0 2.74 50.1 2.63
Slenderleaf 14.7 3.84 16.5 5.4
Jute mallow 15.6 4.50 18.0 1.75
LSD5% 8.6 1.96 7.4 2.54
____________________________________________________________________
_
3.6: Development and Evaluation of Recipes and
Products of AIVs
Cooking has been shown as one of the factors that affect nutrient contents of
vegetables and to follow up on this, recipe collection, standardization and
evaluation was conducted. Survey of indigenous knowledge on traditional recipes
was done in western Kenya in 2002, documented and standardized for vegetable
amaranths, slenderleaf, spiderplant, African nightshade, cowpeas, pumpkin,
cowpeas, African kale and vine spinach. Ten recipes were collected and the main
methods of cooking involved boiling in unspecified amounts of water contributing
to nutrient loss using additives like bicarbonate of soda, lye (traditional salt),
milk, sesame and groundnut paste whose effects were unknown. Consequently,
methods of preparing AIVs had to be standardized in order to minimize nutrient
loss. Findings from the indigenous knowledge survey on recipes recommended
the use of pots rather than pans for cooking, as pots retain heat and give better
simmering effects. Also, the covering of the cooking pot was preceded by sealing
it completely with banana leaves. This would help to retain steam, which escapes
36 AFRICAN INDIGENOUS VEGETABLES IN KENYA
with some volatile nutrients and the aroma. Results also showed that the recipes
were based on a mixture of different vegetables (Musotsi et al 2005)
Based on the findings on indigenous knowledge, a follow up study was done in
2007 to develop recipes of African Indigenous Vegetables in the Lake Victoria
region, established acceptability levels and determined the micro-nutrient
content. Thirty AIVs recipes were developed out of which twenty were vegetable
recipes while ten were vegetable product recipes. Recipes prepared with lye were
significantly accepted by all testers both in terms of appearance and taste. The
developed recipes were high iron (Table 8), copper and Vitamin C. These recipes
were adequate to supply consumers with the recommended daily allowances
especially for iron (Habwe et al.,) Those recipes that were faster to make could be
adopted by industry, companies, hotels, hospitals and institutions and individuals
especially the younger generation
Although, micronutrients like iron and calcium may show significantly high
contents in fresh plant material but their bio-availability to the human body when
consumed is not guaranteed and this calls for further investigation.
Table 8: Iron content (mg/g) of ten developed recipes of AIVs in Lake Victoria
Region
___________________________________________________________________
_
Recipe Boiled Fried
___________________________________________________________________
_
Nightshade 11.5 401.6
Cowpea 15.3 1208
Slenderleaf 6.4 5.8
Amaranth 12.4 5.3
Nightshade+amaranths 11.5 42.3
Nightshade+slenderleaf 13.9 8.2
Nightshade+cowpea 200.4 6.6
Amaranths +slenderleaf 557.5 859.2
Amaranths + cowpea 16.6 303
Slenderleaf +cowpea 9.1 8.1
Significance level 0.05 0.05
LSD
5%
85.5 284.8
___________________________________________________________________
_
Source: Habwe et al., 2008
37
Strategic Repositioning in the Horticultural Sector
4.0 Strategic Repositioning of AIVs in the
Horticulture Sector
4.1 Overview of repositioning
One key to successful strategic repositioning is recognizing that success involves
innovative change and requires advocacy, capacity building and marketing for a
technology or commodity. This should as much as possible involve as many players
as possible in the value chain. In repositioning African indigenous vegetables in the
Horticultural sector, the following strategies are vital: advocacy and promotion;
capacity building;; sustainable seed supply system conservation; marketing
Provision of technical information,
4.2 Advocacy and Promotion
Advocacy and Promotion is a powerful tool in repositioning a commodity. This
strategy has been used since 1999 to reposition AIVs in the Horticultural sector.
The main target groups were chosen as strategic partners and these included
farmers, students, researchers, policy makers and consumers. The objective was to
let stakeholders know about value and potential of African indigenous vegetables
and the constraints hindering optimal exploitation. Methodologies used were
diverse and user friendly and encouraged participatory in nature. These included:
orature, song dance and narratives, demonstration plots, the print media, leaflets,
posters and newpapers, lectures, seminars and workshops, exhibitions and shows,
radio and TV, documentaries and cooking competitions and radio (Irin Radio:
www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=85613 -). These methods were used
in an endevour to sensitize and make a case for indigenous vegetables to all
stakeholders and some are shown in Plate 5
Two documentaries on DVDs have been developed on indigenous vegetables
titled
African indigenous vegetables: Research and related activities: A synopsis by Prof Mary Abukutsa Onyango. 2006
The Role of Universities in Promoting Underutilized Crops: The case of African indigenous vegetables at Maseno University- A research by Prof Mary
Abukutsa-Onyango 2008
38 AFRICAN INDIGENOUS VEGETABLES IN KENYA
a) DVD b) Leaflet c) The Newspapers d) Exhibitions at KICC and at grassroots
Plate 5: Advocacy Tools and Methods
4.3 Capacity Building,
4.3.1 Curricula development and training in Universities
University students from Agricultural faculties normally form the major human
resource in research and extensions services. It is important to build capacity of
the human resource that will undertake research on indigenous vegetables and
those who will effectively disseminate information on indigenous vegetables. At
the university level I contributed to developing human resource and expertise on
African Indigenous Vegetables by restructuring undergraduate and postgraduate
programmes, by including AIVs as a topic in the Bachelor of Science in Horticulture
Programme, and as a unit in the Master of Science programme at Maseno
University in 2005 and at JKUAT in 2008. I have Supervised 55 undergraduate
research projects and 20 Masters and doctorate theses 95% of which were on
African Indigenous vegetables.
Trained two students on internship from University of Hannover, Germany,
Horticulture department for three months on African indigenous vegetables and
conservation of endangered tropical plants at Maseno University (Herbst, 2007)
39
Strategic Repositioning in the Horticultural Sector
Maseno University Undergraduate Supervision on
projects on AIVs
Kithi, L.R. (2007). Survival of vegetatively propagated African nightshade (Solanum
scabrum) as affected by length of stem cutting
Maritim, M.C. (2007). Response of slenderleaf (Crotalaria ochroleuca) to
intercropping with Sorghum (Sorghum bicolor)
Tonui, K.B. (2007). Response of African nightshade (Solanum scabrum) to
topping
Asetso, C.A. (2006). Response of vegetable cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) to inorganic
phosphorus Application.
Kamande, B.G. (2006). Effect of intercropping corn (Zea mays) with slenderleaf
(Crotalaria ochroleuca) on their growth and yield
Kavita, P.M. (2006). Effect of organic and inorganic sources of nitrogen on growth
and development of cucumber (Cucumis sativa)
Mukonzo, M.W. (2006)-Response of spiderplant (Cleome gynandra) to topping
Mutebi, C.M. 2006. Effect of Inorganic Nitrogen Sources on Nodulation of
Slenderleaf (Crotalaria ochroleuca)
Owenga, F.O. (2006). The Effect of Inorganic phosphatic fertilizer on growth and
yield of Bambara groundnut (Voandzeia subterranean)
Wachira D. (2006). Effect of Calcium concentration on lodging, growth and
development of soybeans (Glycine max)
Fedha M. (2005)-Response of vegetable Cowpea(Vigna unguiculata) to application
of inorganic phosphorus
Kiambi, J.M.(2003) Response of leaf amaranths (Amaranthus blitum) to organic
and inorganic fertilizers
Odhiambo, M. (2002) Effect of seed treatment on AIVsto break dormancy
Oduor, S.A. (2002) Response of African kales to different nitrogen sources.
Tengeya, L.N. (2002) Response of spiderplant to organic and in-organic fertilizer
40 AFRICAN INDIGENOUS VEGETABLES IN KENYA
Andika, D.O. (2002) Effect of organic & inorganic fertilizers of growth and yield of
solanum scabrum
Ayuya, O.A. (2002). Growth responses of cowpeas to Application of Mexican
Sunflower as a source of Nitrogen.
Luchibia A.O. (2002) Effect of wild sunflower(Tithonia diversiolia) leaves on growth
and yield of sunnhemp(Crotalaria brevidens)
Karimi K.J. 2001. Effect of nitrogen on pot grown Solanum scabrum. Maseno
University
Shilliebo, A.O.2001 Effect of Mexican sunflower (Tithonia diversifolia) on seedling
emergence of some African indigenous vegetables in Western Kenya. Maseno
University
Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology
undergraduate supervision
Kipsang, E.K., M.K.Liharaka & N.A. Ekhuya (2009) Management of aphids in kale
using selected companion crops
Waithira, K.H.,H.N. Kibiru & R.W. Chege (2009). Effect of seed storage duration
and temperature on seed germination and seedling vigour of selected African
indigenous vegetables
Post graduate Thesis Supervision on AIVs:
Maseno University
Mwai, G.N. 2001. Growth Responses of spiderplant (Cleome gynandra L.) to
Salinity. MSc (Botany-Physiology&Biochemistry)-MSU
Musotsi A.A. 2004. The role of home gardens in food security among rural
households in Butere division, Western Kenya. MSc (Community nutrition)
Maseno University
Obuoyo J.A. 2004. The Role of Traditional Crops in Promoting Food Security in
the Dry Siaya .
District, Kenya. MA (Geography), Maseno University.
Maritim, J. 2006. Response of African nightshade (Solanum scabrum) to
intercropping
41
Strategic Repositioning in the Horticultural Sector
with tea(camellia sinensis). MSc (Botany- Physiology and Biochemistry option)
MSU
Otiende, M.A. 2006. Survival of propagated roses (Rosa hybrida) as affected by
age and storage
periods of cutwood. MSc (Horticulture-Floriculture option) Maseno University.
Mwai, G.N. (2007). Characterization and Evaluation of Vegetable African
Nightshades (Solanum L. section Solanum) Ph.D (Botany- Physiology and
Biochemistry option) Maseno University.
Oseko J.K. (2007) Response of African kale (Brassica carinata) to intercropping
with Four African Indigenous Vegetables.( MSc (Horticulture-Olericulture option).
Maseno University.
Ekesa B.K (2007) Effect of Agricultural bio-diversity on dietary intake and morbidity
of preschool children in Matungu Division, Western Kenya MSc (Community
nutrition) Maseno University
Habwe F (2008). Development of High iron recipes of African indigenous
vegetables from Eastern Africa. MSc (Community Nutrition and Development)
Otiato D.A.(2009): Effect of intercropping Bambara groundnut (Vigna subterranean)
and rice (Oryza Sativa) on their productivity and soil fertility. PhD. Thesis project
4.3.2. Researchers and Scholars
Availability of reference materials for researchers and other scholars is key in
repositioning AIVs in research agenda at research institutions and universities.
I have widely published in refereed scientific journals, refereed conference
proceedings, book chapters and books on various aspects of indigenous vegetables
as indicated in the selection below:
Scientific Journals
Abukutsa-Onyango, M.O. & J. Karimi (2007). Effects of Nitrogen Levels on
Growth and yield of Broad Leafed African nightshade (Solanum scabrum) Acta
Horticulturae 745:379-386
Abukutsa-Onyango, M.O. (2007). Seed Production And Support Systems For
African Leafy Vegetables In Three Communities In Western Kenya. African Journal
of Food Agriculture, Nutrition and Development.(AJFAND) online journal www.
ajfand.net 7:3 ISSN 1648-5374
42 AFRICAN INDIGENOUS VEGETABLES IN KENYA
Abukutsa-Onyango, M.O. (2007). Response Of Slenderleaf (Crotalaria brevidens
Benth) To Inorganic Nitrogen Application. African Journal of Food Agriculture,
Nutrition and Development.(AJFAND) online journal www.ajfand.net 7:3 ISSN
1648-5374.
Abukutsa-Onyango, M.O. (2007). The Diversity Of Cultivated African Leafy
Vegetables In Three Communities In Western Kenya. African Journal of Food
Agriculture, Nutrition and Development.(AJFAND) online journal www.ajfand.net
7:3 ISSN 1648-5374.
Abukutsa-Onyango, M.O. (2003). Unexploited potential of Indigenous African
Vegetables in
Western Kenya. Maseno Journal of Education Arts and Science 4(1): 103-122.
ISSN:1019-360X
Book Chapters
Habwe, F.O.,K.M. Walingo and MOA Onyango (2009). Food Processing and
Preparation Technologies for Sustanainable Utilization of African Indigenous
Vegetables for Nutrition Security and Wealth Creation in Kenya. Chapter 13. In:
Using Food Science and Technology to improve Nutrition and Promote National
Development Eds Robertson, G.L. and Lupien, J.R. International Union of food
Science & Technology, 2009
Oluoch, O, G.N.Pichop, D.Silue, MO Abukutsa-Onyango, M. Diouf and
C.M.Shackleton (2009). Production and Harvesting Systems for African Indigenous
Vegetables Chapter 6: In:African Indigenous Vegetables in Urban Agriculture eds
C.M.Shackleton, M.W.Pasquini and A.W. Drescher.
Pasquini, M.W., F.Assogba-Komlan, I.Vorster, C.M.Shackleton and MO Abukutsa-
Onyango (2009). The production of African indigenous vegetables in urban
and peri-urban agriculture: A comparative analysis of case studies from Benin,
Kenya and South Africa: Chapter 6: In:A frican Indigenous Vegetables in Urban
Agriculture eds C.M.Shackleton, M.W.Pasquini and A.W. Drescher.: 145-175
Abukutsa-Onyango, M.O. (2004) Basella alba.In:Plant Resources of Tropical Africa
2. Vegetables Book (Eds Grubben, G.J.H.and Denton, O.A.) PROTA Foundation,,
Wageningen, Netherlands/Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, Netherlands/CTA Pg 103-
106.
Abukutsa-Onyango, M.O. (2004) Crotalaria brevidens. In:Plant Resources of
Tropical Africa 2. Vegetables Book (Eds Grubben, G.J.H.and Denton, O.A.)
43
Strategic Repositioning in the Horticultural Sector
(Eds Grubben, G.J.H.and Denton, O.A.) PROTA Foundation,, Wageningen,
Netherlands/Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, Netherlands/CTAPg 229-231.
Proceedings of a workshop organized on AIVs can be found on the link below:
Abukutsa-Onyango, M.O, A.N. Muriithi, V.E. Anjichi, K. Ngamau , S.G. Agong,
A.Fricke, B.Hau and H.Stützel, 2005. Proceedings of the third Horticulture
Workshop on Sustainable Horticultural Production in the Tropics,26th -29th
November 2003. Maseno University . www.gem.uni-hannover.de/typo3conf/
ext/.../secure.php?u
I have also examined over ten postgraduate theses from University of Nairobi,
Moi University, Maseno University, Masinde Muliro University of Science and
Technology and Egerton university 95% of which were on African indigenous
vegetables
I have trained over 200 researchers and extension workers from all over Africa
between 2002 and 2008 undertaking a six month diploma training course on
vegetable crops production and research at AVRDC-The World Vegetable Center-
RCA, Arusha, Tanzania on the following two topics:
Topic 1: Classification and Distribution of African Traditional Vegetables
Topic 2: Cultivation and seed production of African Traditional Vegetables
4.3.3 Community based organizations and Farmers
To successfully reposition AIVs farmers are very important as they are the producers,
so apart from creating awareness, capacity building and training them is vital. In
this endeavour, I have trained 77 contact farmers in western Kenya and 23 farmers
in Central on seed production of indigenous vegetables and it is envisaged that
these farmers can act as catalysts to the promotion and repositioning of indigenous
vegetables at the grassroots. (Abukutsa-Onyango, 2009b)
4.3.4. Policy makers
Policy makers are vital in promoting a commodity, in this context under the
indigenoVeg project, I nominated four policy makers to attend the policy
dialogue workshop in January 23rd to 26th 2008 at Rhodes University, the topic
of discussion was “The Promotion of African indigenous Vegetables in urban and
peri-urban Agriculture in African Cities:A policy Dialogue Workshop”. These
policy makers were drawn from Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, Ministry of
44 AFRICAN INDIGENOUS VEGETABLES IN KENYA
agriculture, National Council Science and Technology and Nairobi Municipality
council. This was funded by the EU with name “IndigenoVeg” project involving 7
African countries and 5 European institutions of which I was the Kenyan country
project leader
4.4. Development of Dissemination Materials
Diversity of effective dissemination materials would enhance the repositioning of
AIVs with regard to farmers and consumers. In this endevour I have developed
simplified technical leaflets on the production of African nightshade, spiderplant,
vegetable amaranths, jute mallow, slenderleaf, pumpkin leaves and African kale
and used to train and disseminate technical information on African indigenous
vegetables (Plate 6)
Plate 6: A sample of dissemination materials developed
4.5. Sustainable Quality Seed supply systems
The first step in promoting any crop is the provision of quality seed, and therefore
selections made from the accessions collected have been multiplied, evaluated,
bulked, packaged (Plate 7) and distributed to farmers as a temporary stop gap as
further breeding work to develop cultivars is planned. In that context seed supply
systems for indigenous vegetables were set up at Maseno University Botanic Garden
and JKUAT and an intermediate measure for farmers to access quality seed. Seed
distribution for the period between 2001 and 2007 is shown in Table 9
Plate 7: Packaged seed of spiderplant, seed bulking at Maseno University and JKUAT
45
Strategic Repositioning in the Horticultural Sector
Table 9: Seed distribution technical advice and outreach on AIVs (2001 to 2007)
Contact Farmers and/or Farmer Groups
Western Kenya Central Kenya
District Number District Number
Kisumu 16 Nyeri 5
Siaya 11 Thika 5
Bondo 3 Nairobi 6
Vihiga 24 Kiambu 5
Butere-Mumias 5 Kajiado 2
Kisii 11
Nyamira 5
Homabay 2
Total 77 23
Source: Abukutsa-Onyango 2007b
4.6 Conservation of African Indigenous Vegetables.
In-situ and ex-situ conservation of AIVs was implemented from 2001. Maseno
University Botanic Garden was established in 2001 and is a home to 200 plant
species, of which 10% are AIVs. This project was funded by Federal Government of
Germany, BIOTA PROJECT and the purpose of the garden was combined research,
teaching, conservation and recreational use. I was a collaborating researcher and
contributed to the collection of indigenous vegetables currently conserved at the
botanic garden.
4.7 Markets for Indigenous vegetables
Markets surveys have indicated that the demand for indigenous vegetables is not
fully met in Kenyan urban and peri-urban markets. Identified potential markets
in Kisumu, Nairobi, East African and Sub-Saharan Africa. Linking farmers to
markets has been expeditiously undertaken by some of our strategic partners Farm
concern International. Promoting a commodity with an assured market is vital for
its success. There are potential urban, national, regional and international markets.
People in the diaspora in United Kingdom and USA have expressed a desire to get
AIVs supplied to them. This would require preserving and some processing , this
calls for research in this area.
46 AFRICAN INDIGENOUS VEGETABLES IN KENYA
4.8. Recipes, Processing technologies and Product
prototypes
Many consumers had expressed concern that traditional methods of preparation
were time consuming and tedious, this was especially so for the younger
generation. In this connection traditional recipes were collected and standardized.
New recipes were also developed and evaluated. Development of product proto-
types have been done and being evaluated, some of the recipes and prototypes
developed are shown in Plate 8 .
4.9 Acceptability of Indigenous vegetables for
consumption
To enhance consumption of African indigenous vegetables participatory selection
and ranking of AIVs recipes was done. Organoleptic tests and acceptability of the
recipes in Western Kenya and Eastern Africa were done for recipes and products
developed (Plate 8). Ranking was done based on taste and appearance. Recipes
prepared with traditional salt, lye were significantly accepted by all testers in
terms of appearance and taste. Participatory selection of the priority AIVs will also
enhance acceptability.
a) Traditional recipe b) Exchange students from Hannover, prepare AIVs dishes and Products
Habwe et al., 2008
Plate 8: Recipes and Product Prototypes from AIVs
47
Strategic Repositioning in the Horticultural Sector
5.0 Significance of research on AIVS to
development and its impact
5.1. Increased number of Students researching on AIVs
The proportion of BSc Horticulture students who undertook projects in AIVs in
Maseno University increased from 20% in 2001 to 70% in 2006 and then dropped
to 50% in 2008; in JKUAT there was an decrease from 31% in 2004 to 20% in
2007, but this doubled to 40% in 2008 as shown in Table 10 (Abukutsa-Onyango,
2009a). There is an increased number of research theses in all public universities
on African indigenous vegetables.
Table 10 Proportion of BSc Horticulture students who conducted Research
on African Indigenous Vegetable in their final year of study at Maseno
University and JKUAT-KENYA
YEAR
Number of students researching on AIVs in their final year of study
Maseno University JKUAT
No. in Class AIV projects
(%) No. in Class AIV projects (%)
2001 10 20
2002 29 34
2003 14 28
2004 14 71 39 31
2005 – – 41 29
2006 25 70 36 20
2007 14 42 32 20
2008 6 50 32 40
Source: Abukutsa-Onyango, M.O. 2009a.
5.2 Availability of Quality seed:
Quality seed of selected African indigenous vegetables available at Maseno
University, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Some of
the trained contact farmers in Central and Western Kenya are producing quality
seed. Tatro, a community based organization in western Kenya is currently very
successful as a result of my efforts at establishing a community based seed supply
system and training.They have subsequently collaborated with AVRDC and are
48 AFRICAN INDIGENOUS VEGETABLES IN KENYA
contracted to produce seeds for some private companies and are actually in the
final stages of being registered by KEPHIS as AIVs seed producers.
5.3 Increased Yields and Production of AIVs
Increased Production in farmers fields in many parts of Kenya including Central
Kenya,un-traditional growers of AIVs, and they supply Uchumi , Nakumatt
Holdings and Tuskys super markets and Githurai, Kangemi and Gikomba open
air markets . There is also increased yield of AIVs as a result of availability of
technical packages from 2-3 tons per hectare to 10-15 tons per hectare. A farmer
in Githunguri, in peri-urban Nairobi shifted from growing coffee to growing AIVs
to supply Uchumi super market in 2006
Development of high nutrient prototypes for possible commercialization has been
done. The increased demand and ready market is an incentive for farmers to
produce more.
5.4 Increased Popularity, Availability and Consumption
of African indigenous vegetables
There is an increased availability, popularity and Consumption of Indigenous
vegetables as indicated by the rate at which they are sold out at the super markets
and as reported in the daily papers in the last three years like the standard, Taifa leo,
Metro and the star. Consumption could have been enhanced also by availability of
recipes for palatable and acceptable dishes as shown in Plate 8.
5.5. Availability of dissemination materials
Information production of AIVs and recipes has been repackaged and simplified
into leaflets and this could be availed at department of Horticulture, JKUAT.
5.6 Increased research and reference materials on
indigenous vegetables
There is an increased number of researchers working on African indigenous
vegetables at Universities, national and international research institutions. Funding
on agricultural biodiversity has also increased. Funding agencies have realized the
importance of these vegetables through pioneering research like the one reported
in this inaugural lecture
49
Strategic Repositioning in the Horticultural Sector
5.6 Consequently a Contribution has been made to:
Sustainable Production and Utilization of AIVs1.
Improved Food Security , Nutrition and Health2.
Increased Incomes and Improved Livelihoods3.
Sustainable Development4.
50 AFRICAN INDIGENOUS VEGETABLES IN KENYA
6.0 Conclusions Recommendations
6.1 Conclusions
This overview gives overwhelming evidence as to why AIVs should be repositioned
in the Horticulture sector, it also gives strategies that can be capitalized on to
achieve this. Horticulturalist, farmers and other stakeholders need paradigm shift
to embrace African indigenous vegetables as a vital commodity in the sector, and
appreciate all the players in the value chain and think outside the box to tap
into the potential of AIVs. It is strongly recommended that Universities, Research
Institutions, the government and other stakeholders should make deliberate efforts
to promote African indigenous vegetables in order to exploit their potential for
food security, nutrition and wealth creation for sustainable development. African
indigenous vegetables should form part of the curricula for students taking
Horticultural programmes in Agricultural Faculties and Colleges. Universities and
other research institutions must engage policy makers, the private sector and the
grass roots in order to attain sustainable development in this pursuit. Strategic
repositioning of African indigenous vegetables in the Horticulture sector in Kenya
will also greatly contribute to the achievement of vision 2030.
6.2 Research Directions and Perspectives
commercial production, value addition, processing and product development for domestic and export markets
validate processing methods used by farmers
research into breeding, commercial seed production and efficient seed delivery system for AIVs
bioavailability studies on iron and calcium to be conducted
exploit the Nutraceutical development Potentials of AIVs
systematic and detailed studies to be undertaken on the top ten AIVs with nutrition and economic potential
development of good agricultural practices (GAP) for all priority species
economic Analysis of the promising species of African indigenous vegetables
physiological studies to identify the species that can tolerate biotic and abiotic stresses and seed physiology
51
Strategic Repositioning in the Horticultural Sector
Strengthen conservation efforts on AIVs
explore other areas of potential Indigenous fruits(Guava) and flowers (mobdik)
Form strong linkages between the Researchers, Policy makers, extension agents, educators and the community
African indigenous vegetables be fully engaged as a horticultural commodity in the discipline and sector.
6.3 Suggested ways to engage Industry, the Private
Sector and other Partners
Seed production, processing, packaging and distribution by seed distribution agents and community based organizations
Product prototypes could be developed into business ventures
Recipes can be used in restaurants, hospitals, institutions, Airlines
Curricula on African indigenous vegetables at Agricultural Universities
Strong collaboration with KARI , Ministry of Agriculture, National Council of Science and Technology and other agriculture sector ministries the private
sector and communities
6.4 Parting Shot
African Indigenous Vegetables are no Longer Weeds, but High Profile
commodities
With Nutritional and Unrivalled health benefits, besides, they have a role
to play in food security, nutrition, income and sustainable development in
Kenya and beyond, they are a gold mine to be harvested, ALL are invited to
cash in and be Healthy.
Thank You All
52 AFRICAN INDIGENOUS VEGETABLES IN KENYA
7.0 Acknowledgement
I wish to acknowledge, thank and appreciate the following without whom this
Professorial Inaugural Lecture would not have been realized
To GOD be the Glory & honour!
Vice Chancellor, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Prof Mabel Imbuga, who was instrumental, supportive and a mentor in this
pursuit
IPGRI- Bioversity International
Lake Victoria Research Initiative(VicRes), of SIDA-SAREC funding through IUCEA
International Foundation of Science (IFS)
European Commission (EC)
Biota-East Africa Project E12
Plant Resources of Tropical Africa (PROTA)
Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI)
AVRDC-World Vegetable Center, Regional Africa office, Arusha
Commission for Higher Education (CHE)
National Council of Science and Technology (NCST)
Vice Chancellor, Maseno University, Prof Frederick N. Onyango
The invaluable support and encouragement from the Faculty of Agriculture, JKUAT and Faculty of Science, Maseno University and my graduate students
is highly appreciated
Special thanks to the late Patrick Omulubi, Peter Olewe of Maseno University and Patrick Kavagi and Francis Wetende of JKUAT for working tirelessly and
closely with me in my research endevours
I wish to extent my sincere appreciation to Prof Ratemo Michieka, Dr Anselimo Makokha, Dr Gideon N. Mwai, Dr Elijah Ateka and Dr Peter Masinde for
taking time off their busy schedule to review my inaugural lecture.
53
Strategic Repositioning in the Horticultural Sector
To my father, the late Enos Abukutsa Masele and mother, Rosebella Abukutsa, for giving me a strong foundation that led me into the right direction.
To Lydia Ayako Mareri, thank you for praying with me and giving me a shoulder to lean on when I was physically, spiritually, emotionally and psychologically
challenged in my adult and professional life
Last but not least my deep appreciation to Douglas and Tony for the opportunity to experience the beauty of being a mother and gratitude to Prof
J.C. Onyango for pushing me towards Jesus which enhanced my personal
relationship with GOD.
54 AFRICAN INDIGENOUS VEGETABLES IN KENYA
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60 AFRICAN INDIGENOUS VEGETABLES IN KENYA
9.0 Annexes
Annex 1 Honours and Awards
9.1.1a KARI Certificate of Excellence 9.1.1b The CGIAR Science Award
9.1.2 Showcase, AIVs research on 5th August 2009 to US Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton
9.1.3 Recognition of AIVs research by the AU in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 24th April
2009
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Strategic Repositioning in the Horticultural Sector
Annex 2: Achievements and Research Impact
9.2.1 AIVs Research In the Field With Students and at the Grassroots
9.2.2 Quality seed and technical leaflets led to increased yields and increased
availability
9.2.3 AIVs become popular, leading to increased Consumption
9.2.4 Development of AIVs Recipes Product Proto-types
62 AFRICAN INDIGENOUS VEGETABLES IN KENYA
9.2.5 Some healthy Kenyans that have thrived on AIVs for two decades and over
9.2.6 Conservation of AIVs and other useful plants at the Botanic garden, Maseno
University
9.2.7 The story of African Indigenous Vegetables being told to the Policy Makers
63
Strategic Repositioning in the Horticultural Sector
Annex 3: MY APPEAL
VOTE YES, FOR STRATEGIC REPOSITIONING OF AFRICAN
INDIGENOUS VEGETABLES IN THE HORTICULTURE
SECTOR
... Production of AIVs is correlated to the cultural background, climate, and relief. However, cowpea (Vigna unguiculata), okra (Abelmoschus esculentus), African eggplants (Solanum spp.), some species of leaf amaranth (Amaranthus spp.), spider plant (Cleome spp.), some species of nightshades (Solanum spp.), and pumpkins (Cucurbita spp.) are more common throughout the continent [39]. ...
... AIVs are potential sources of various fibers, vitamins and minerals needed for healthy living. In many cases, AIVs are reported to be higher in micronutrients, proteins, and phytochemicals than the most exotic vegetables [33,39,50]. Table 2 illustrates the nutritional potential of some AIVs. ...
... The importance of AIVs on the food security in SSA was reported by [9,39]. It is expected that the promotion of agriculture and consumption of AIVs will help in fighting hunger in both rural and urban households [32,60]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Hunger and malnutrition continue to affect Africa especially the vulnerable children and women in reproductive age. However, Africa has indigenous foods and associated traditional technologies that can contribute to alleviation of hunger, malnutrition, and communicable and noncommunicable diseases. The importance of African indigenous vegetables is undeniable, only that they are season-linked and considered as “food for poor” despite their high nutritional contents. The utilization of African indigenous vegetables (AIVs) is hindered by postharvest losses and antinutrients affecting the bioavailability of nutrients. In Africa, fermentation is among the oldest food processing technologies with long history of safe use. Apart from extending shelf life and improving food organoleptic properties, fermentation of African indigenous vegetables (AIVs) is known to improve food nutritional values such as proteins, minerals, vitamins, and other beneficial phytochemicals. It can also increase bioavailability of various vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals and increase synthesis of vital blood pressure regulators thus protecting against cardiovascular diseases and cancer and further helping fight certain malnutrition deficiencies. Some lactic acid bacteria (LAB) involved in food fermentation are known to produce exopolysaccharides with cholesterol-lowering, immunomodulator, antioxidant, and anticancer properties. Fermented foods (vegetables) are superior in quality and safety since most microorganisms involved in fermentation are good starter cultures that can inhibit the growth of foodborne pathogens and detoxify harmful compounds in foods. Thus, fermented foods can boost growth and well-being in children and women due to their higher nutritional contents. Therefore, fermentation of AIVs can contribute to the attainment of food and nutrition security especially among women and children who rely on these vegetables as a staple source of micronutrients and income. These benefits have a positive impact on the implementation of the second sustainable development goals and African Union agenda 2063. This review is aimed at shedding light on the potential of African fermented indigenous vegetables in combating maternal and child malnutrition in Sub-Sahara Africa. 1. Introduction Currently, the world population is estimated at 7.8 billion with a projection of 9.8 billion in 2050 [1]. Further prediction shows that more than half of the world population will be living in Africa in 2050, with 2 in 5 being children [2]. The high population growth will put stress on food production which is even weak leaving many Africans food insecure especially for nourishing women and children who remain vulnerable and mostly found in rural areas where food is not sufficiently available or economic constraints preventing them from accessing sufficient nutrients [3]. Maternal and child malnutrition is a heavy burden on the health. It is therefore necessary to urgently act to ensure food and nutrition security [4]. To implement the second sustainable development goal (SDG 2) which stresses on the global access to safe, nutritious, and sufficient food and African Union Agenda 2063, Africa needs to do everything possible to provide sufficient and nutritious food to its growing population [2, 5, 6]. Particularly, regarding micronutrients, there is still a huge gap to fill; for example, Africa ranks number two in vitamin A deficiency [4, 7]. Around 60% of arable land is in Africa; unfortunately, more than a quarter of underfed people are found on this continent due to low agricultural and postharvest processing development among other causes [8]. In Sub-Sahara Africa (SSA), around 42% of children have symptoms of stunting which is the most noticeable form of malnutrition while women of reproductive age have shown a high prevalence of anemia [9]. AIVs are vegetables that originated or got established in Africa for many generations, and their leaves, young shoots, flowers, fruits, seeds, stems, tubers, or roots are consumed as vegetables [10, 11]. However, these vegetables also have the highest level of antinutrients especially polyphenols [12]. Since AIVs are adapted to the local climate and are readily available during the rainy season, they could contribute to the nutrient intake among the vulnerable people [13]. Therefore, there is need to process them with the purpose of keeping or increasing their nutrients, organoleptic properties, and storability [14, 15]. Among postharvest technologies, fermentation ranks among the oldest and most efficient because it requires less energy and materials while nutritionally enriching the food, increasing shelf life, reducing antinutrients, and increasing organoleptic properties [16, 17]. In Africa, fermentation is done at the household level and without uniformity of the products [3]. However, both fermented foods and indigenous vegetables have remained the foods of the poor which find almost no more place in the households’ food preparations when lifestyle becomes better [18]. Fermented indigenous vegetables could play a potential role in ensuring food security in Africa [10, 11, 19], thus contributing to the alleviation of maternal and child low nutrient-related problems, hence safeguarding the whole family. 2. Methods This review is aimed at shedding light on the potential of AIVs and fermentation of AIVs in combating maternal and child malnutrition in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). For this review, 11 articles, review papers, and reports ranging from 2010 to 2020 about the nutritional status of women and children in SSA were used. 56 on AIVs, their agricultural production, and their nutritional impact were collected, but 14 of them were excluded due to their irrelevance to the review. A total of 11 review articles on AIV fermentation were used, but 2 were excluded because they were too old, while 19 research articles and review papers on African fermented products were used in this manuscript. 3. Results 3.1. Maternal and Child Nutrition and Health Status in Sub-Saharan Africa Stunting of children under 5 years and anemia among women of reproductive age prevail at an unacceptable level in Africa especially SSA [4, 20]. The low agricultural advances and natural and anthropological calamities have taken a lead in spreading hunger despite the second SDG and African Union Agenda 2063 which intends to eradicate hunger and undernutrition and ensure the provision of safe food to the people [3, 21]. SSA remains the one region of the earth with the highest prevalence of stunting, low birth weight, and mental retardation in children and anemia in pregnant and nonpregnant women and even with the general population having high micronutrient deficiency [7, 9]. In many communities of SSA, pregnant and lactating women are subjected to various food taboos which can result in malnutrition to them and their children [22]. Diarrhea remains among the most killer of children under the age of 5 especially in SSA [2, 3, 23]. Diarrhea can be due to low hygiene, but also malnutrition has a contribution in the frequent occurrence [16, 24]. Iron deficiency in women of reproductive age remains high in SSA despite iron supplement interventions [25–28]. It is believed that iron deficiency contributes to complicated pregnancies and iron deficiency in children which are prevalent in this region [29–31]. Iron, zinc, folate, and vitamin A deficiencies remain a big public health threat in Africa as affected women tend to have children with the same problems and consequences accumulate in the families if nothing is done to correct the situation [25, 32, 33]. There is still a need to improve maternal nutrition for better pregnancy outcomes [26, 28]. Even with all mitigation resolutions taken against micronutrient deficiency, in low-income countries (including SSA countries), 1.7% of deaths of children under the age of five are due to vitamin A deficiency [34]. Folate deficiency in pregnant and adolescent women is being combatted by food fortification and fermentation [31, 35]. Anemia like other malnutrition-related complications in women of reproductive age leads to low pregnancy outcomes and even mortality while stunting prevails in Africa with twenty-five countries having a highly unacceptable level of stunting (>30%) [20, 36]. This is because most women live in rural areas where they experience endless poverty, natural, and anthropological crises with all the responsibility to feed their children [3, 37]. Also, hunger and undernutrition are most prevalent among women and children [3, 37]. To alleviate the prevailing condition of micronutrient deficiency, many resolutions like food fortification and effective nutritional education need to be put in place [4]. However, AIV consumption and their good processing techniques are to be adopted among others for vulnerable households and the whole population to be able to meet their micronutrient needs [32]. Many AIVs were reported to contain micronutrients in sufficient amounts that they can alone help to attain the daily recommended intakes [10]. For instance, Moringa leaves can help to attain 80% of vitamin A daily requirements [30, 38]. 3.2. Production and Diversity of AIVs in SSA Indigenous vegetables are preferred over exotic ones as they are part of cultural heritage and medicinal or religious use [11, 19]. Africa must reinforce its food sovereignty by considering its indigenous food as one way to attain food security [10]. Production of AIVs is correlated to the cultural background, climate, and relief. However, cowpea (Vigna unguiculata), okra (Abelmoschus esculentus), African eggplants (Solanum spp.), some species of leaf amaranth (Amaranthus spp.), spider plant (Cleome spp.), some species of nightshades (Solanum spp.), and pumpkins (Cucurbita spp.) are more common throughout the continent [39]. Even if vegetable and fruit consumption in Africa remains low or depends on their seasonality, AIVs contribute a lot to nutritional intake and income generation [28, 40]. For instance, cowpea is rich in both β-carotene and iron, its production in Africa was estimated at around 6.7 metric tons in 2016, and many researches are ongoing to extend its shelf life and increase its overall acceptability [11, 41]. The diversity of indigenous vegetables is highly influenced by the climatic conditions in Africa; however, some are common in many parts of Africa, like African nightshades, African kale, and cowpeas [12, 15, 24]. Table 1 shows different vegetables and regions of Africa where they are commonly found. Vegetable Consumed parts Scientific name Region where they are consumed Black African nightshades Leaves and young shoots Solanum nigrum and S. scabrum Tropical Africa African spider plant Leaves and young shoots Cleome gynandra Tropical Africa and semiarid regions African eggplant Berries Solanum aethiopicum Central, East tropical, and Eastern Africa Jute mallow Leaves and young shoots Corchorus olitorius East Africa Amaranthus Leaves and young shoots Amaranthus cruentus Tropical and semiarid Africa Roselle hibiscus Flowers and seeds Hibiscus sabdariffa Eastern Africa Cowpeas Leaves and young shoots Vigna unguiculata Tropical Africa Baobab Leaves, young shoots, and fruits Adansonia digitata West, Central, and East tropical Africa Moringa Leaves, bark, roots, and fruits Moringa oleifera West, Central, and East tropical Africa Cassava leaves Leaves Manihot esculenta West, Central, and East tropical Africa Plumed cockscomb or silver cock’s comb Flower and leaves Celosia argentea West, Central, and East tropical Africa Mkula Leaves and young shoots Pterocarpus mildbraedii West tropical and East tropical Africa Sickle pod Leaves Senna obtusifolia Eastern Africa/semiarid regions Watercress Leaves and young shoots Rorippa madagascariensis Tropical Africa Burweed Leaves Triumfetta annua All over tropical Africa Kenaf Young leaves and shoots Hibiscus cannabinus Tropical regions Sorrel Young shoots Oxalis, Rumex acetosa Tropical regions Cucumis africanus Southern Africa Ethiopian kale Leaves Brassica carinata Northern and Eastern Africa Sweet potato leaves Leaves Ipomea batata Tropical Africa Beans leaves Leaves Phaseolus vulgaris Tropical Africa Taro root leaves Leaves Colocasia esculenta Tropical Africa Blackjack Young shoots Bidens pilosa Tropical Africa Chayote Fruit Sechium edule Tropical Africa Chicken spike Young leaves and shoots Sphenoclea zeylanica Africa Turkey berries Berries Solanum torvum Tropical Africa Okra Pod Abelmoschus esculentus & A. caillei Tropical Africa and semiarid regions Sesame Seeds Sesamum indicum Tropical, subtropical, and temperate Africa Pumpkin leaves Leaves Cucurbita moschata & C. maxima Africa Bacon weed Leaves Chenopodium album Tropical Africa Groundnut Beans Arachis hypogea Tropical Africa Watercress Leaves and young shoots Nasturtium aquatica Tropical Africa Stinging nettle Leaves and young shoots Urtica dioica Tropical and arid regions of Africa Arrow leaf/elephant’s ear Leaves Xanthosoma mafaffa Tropical Africa African foxglove Leaves Ceratotheca triloba Southern Africa Yellow Justicia Leaves Justicia flava Tropical and Southern Africa Waterleaf Leaves Talinum triangulare West tropical Africa Slender leaf Leaves Crotalaria brevidens Tropical Africa and cultivated in temperate regions Gallant soldier Leaves Galinsoga parviflora Tropical Africa Bitter leaf Leaves Vernonia amygdalina Tropical and Southern Africa
... Africa indigenous vegetables (AIVs) are nutritious (rich source in minerals and vitamins) and are well adapted to local conditions [1]. Consumption of AIVs such as African nightshade (Solanum nigrum L.), amaranth (Amaranthus hybridus L.), spider plant (Cleome gynandra L.), jute mallow (Corchorus olitorius L.), Cowpea leaves (Vigna unguiculate L. Walp), Crotalaria and Okra ensures that staple-based diets are balanced and provide both food and nutrition security and income. ...
... Agriculture & Food Security *Correspondence: ogadajuma@yahoo.co.uk 1 Taita Taveta University, Voi, Kenya Full list of author information is available at the end of the article Ogada et al. Agric & Food Secur (2021) 10:52 superior nutritional properties and changing trends on healthy lifestyles [1,5,6]. AIV sub-sector is very delicate, relying on family labour, rainfall and highly volatile market prices. ...
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Background African indigenous vegetables are important for food security and nutrition, and income of the poor farm households. In the era of COVID-19, they are critical for boosting people’s immunity. Unfortunately, both production of and trade in these vegetables is likely to be severely affected by the pandemic. Methods This study examined potential effects of COVID-19 pandemic on production and trade of African indigenous vegetables using a cross-sectional survey of 244 farmers and 246 traders from different regions in Kenya. Results COVID-19 has a negative impact on production and trading of AIVs in Kenya. Findings indicate that 75% of the farmers are experiencing declining production due to reduced access to input, farm labour and output market. Secondly, about 98% of the traders have recorded a drop in sales volumes due to containment measures implemented by the government and personal safety precautions. In particular, farmers’ production and traders’ sales volumes declined by 39 and 65%, respectively, during the first phase of the pandemic. Conclusion The findings indicate that the sub-sector requires targeted interventions which may include input support, careful reopening and control of the open-air markets, reduced taxation and facilitated access to urban markets.
... Appreciation for African leafy vegetables (ALVs) in Kenya is in part due to their medicinal values and high nutritive contents (Abukutsa-Onyango, 2010;Ayua and Omware, 2013). Other advantages are food security and adaptability to marginal agricultural production areas and their ability to provide dietary diversity in poor rural communities (Weller et al., 2015;Maseko et al., 2017;Hoffman et al., 2018). ...
... The common perception is that seeds from the ISS are the most inferior compared to the other systems but some studies indicated the contrary and that the issue of seed quality is of equal important across the seed system (Gebeyu et al., 2019). Results of the current study agree with a survey from in western Kenya, in which only 12% of 70 trained contact farmers provided with initial seed produced quality seed for their use (Abukutsa-Onyango, 2010). In contrast, other studies indicated good germination and seed quality that resulted from farmers' produced seed. ...
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Seed quality is an important determinant in field performance and marketable yields of crop production. Low quality and small quantities of available seeds are major constraints in African leafy vegetable (ALV) production and limit the ability to provide farmers more options for growing health food. Capacity building was done through the Horticultural Innovation Lab, programme to assist farmer groups to produce quality ALV seed using the semi-informal seed system (SSS) for the dissemination of five newly released, high yielding improved ALV varieties. The ALVs seed plots were monitored by programme implementers during seed production. Thereafter, to determine the quality of ALVs seed produced through the SSS, seed samples of African nightshade (Solanum scabrum), spider plant (Cleome gynandra) and amaranth (Amaranth cruentus) were collected from farmer group members in Nandi South and Busia Counties. Another set of seed samples of the same species of vegetables produced through the Informal seed system (ISS), were sourced from the local market in Kakamega for quality comparison with seeds from the SSS. Seed quality parameters tested were physical purity, pure live seeds (PLS) and germination percentage at the Kenya Agricultural Research and Livestock Organization (KALRO) laboratory in Kakamega. The seed quality results are reported here and show that there is little difference in quality between semi-formal and informal seed systems, but in both cases, each of these systems produce seed quality below national seed standards (physical purity is 98%, PLS and Germination is 75 % for amaranth and 50% for other ALV seeds). There was no difference in the seed quality from the ISS and SSS. Mean scores for physical purity were ISS (91%), SSS (90%); PLS were ISS (29%) and SSS (31%) and Germination percent were ISS (33%) and SSS (35%). Seed quality between the vegetable species also showed no significant differences. The results reflect the limitations of farmers producing seed through the semi-formal to manage their seed plots during crop growth, harvesting and processing, and storage of seeds. Given that the majority of ALV growers access their seed through these seed systems, greater attention is needed to strengthen both the ISS and SSS systems.
... The AIVs are considered a new cash crop in most SSA regions because they contribute to income generation to individuals and households (Shackleton et al., 2009). AIVs have been part of SSA's food systems for generations, and their leaves, young shoots, and flowers are consumed for various purposes (Abukutsa-Onyango, 2010;Ambrose-Oji, 2009;Yang & Ojiewo, 2013). ANSs are among high-priority AIVs with the potential for health, nutrition, and economic benefits (Edmonds & Chweya, 1997;Yang & Ojiewo, 2013). ...
... To date, there are no policy issues, regulations, or bay laws guiding the safety of consuming ANS in SSA or other parts of the world (Nono-Womdim et al., 2012). Therefore, the SSA countries need to develop and implement policies and strategies to promote sustainable production and ANS safety (Abukutsa-Onyango, 2010). There is a need for policy-makers at the national, regional, and international levels to address the significant safety issues on ANS to attain maximum benefits. ...
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Achieving zero hunger in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) without minimizing posthar-vest losses of agricultural products is impossible. Therefore, a holistic approach is vital to end hunger, simultaneously improving food security, diversity, and livelihoods. This review focuses on the African nightshades (ANS) Solanum spp. contribution to improving food and nutrition security in SSA. Different parts of ANS are utilized as food and medicine; however, pests and diseases hinder ANS utilization. African nightshade is rich in micronutrients such as β-carotene, vitamins C and E, minerals (iron, calcium, and zinc), and dietary fiber. The leaves contain a high amount of nutrients than the berries. Proper utilization of ANS can contribute to ending hidden hunger, mainly in children and pregnant women. Literature shows that ANS contains antinutritional factors such as oxalate, phytate, nitrate, and alkaloids; however, their quantities are low to cause potential health effects. Several improved varieties with high yields, rich in nutrients, and low alkaloids have been developed in SSA. Various processing and preservation techniques such as cooking, drying, and fermentation are feasible techniques for value addition on ANS in SSA; moreover, most societies are yet to adopt them effectively. Furthermore, promoting value addition and com-mercialization of ANS is of importance and can create more jobs. Therefore, this review provides an overview of ANS production and challenges that hinder their utilization, possible solutions, and future research suggestions. This review concludes that ANS is an essential nutritious leafy vegetable for improving nutrition and livelihoods in SSA.
... AIVs such as African nightshade (Solanum scabrum), spider plant (Cleome gynandra), amaranth (Amaranthus spp.), and cowpea leaves (Vigna unguiculata), are culturally accepted (Weller et al., 2015;Hoffman et al., 2018;Hunter et al., 2019;Simon et al., 2020Simon et al., , 2021, nutrient dense Kamga et al., 2013) vegetables that may offer a partial solution to addressing malnutrition in SSA by contributing to micro and macro-nutrient intakes without introducing excess calories. Furthermore, AIVs are adapted to the local environmental conditions (Abukutsa-Onyango, 2010;Muhanji et al., 2011;Hunter et al., 2019) and some are even considered "survivor plants" due to their tolerance to temperature and precipitation extremes posing them as a sustainably produced and a climate resilient food source of micro and macro-nutrients (Chivenge et al., 2015;Stöber et al., 2017). Nutrition-sensitive agriculture programs attempt to increase the availability, affordability, and accessibility of nutritious foods, such as AIVs, which can contribute to a healthy diet; however, these programs may not take into consideration the broader barriers and facilitators within the external and personal food environment that may contribute to the preparation and consumption of such foods (Gillespie and Bold, 2017;Maestre et al., 2017). ...
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Malnutrition and food security continue to be major concerns in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). In Western Kenya, it is estimated that the double burden of malnutrition impacts 19% of adults and 13–17% of households. One potential solution to help address the concern is increased consumption of nutrient-dense African Indigenous Vegetables (AIVs). The objectives of this study were to: (i) document current methods used for preparation and consumption of AIVs; (ii) identify barriers and facilitators of AIVs consumption and preparation; and (iii) identify a package of interventions to increase the consumption of AIVs to promote healthy diets. This study used qualitative data collected from 145 individual farmers (78 female and 67 male) in 14 focus group discussions (FGDs) using a semi-structured survey instrument. Most farmers reported that they prepared AIVs using the traditional method of boiling and/or pan-cooking with oil, tomato, and onion. However, there were large discrepancies between reported cooking times, with some as little as 1–5 min and others as long as 2 h. This is of importance as longer cooking times may decrease the overall nutritional quality of the final dish. In addition, there were seasonal differences in the reported barriers and facilitators relative to the preparation and consumption of AIVs implying that the barriers are situational and could be modified through context-specific interventions delivered seasonally to help mitigate such barriers. Key barriers were lack of availability and limited affordability, due to an increase cost, of AIVs during the dry season, poor taste and monotonous diets, and perceived negative health outcomes (e.g., ulcers, skin rashes). Key facilitators included availability and affordability during peak-season and particularly when self-produced, ease of preparation, and beneficial health attributes (e.g., build blood, contains vitamins and minerals). To promote healthy diets within at risk-populations in Western Kenya, the findings suggest several interventions to promote the preparation and consumption of AIVs. These include improved household production to subsequently improve affordability and availability of AIVs, improved cooking methods and recipes that excite the family members to consume these dishes with AIVs, and the promotion of the beneficial heath attributes of AIVs while actively dispelling any perceived negative health consequences of their consumption.
... The mean bulk densities (Da) of the three sites are respectively 1.26 ± 0.04 g/cm 3 (Santchou), 1.05 ± 0.02 g/cm 3 (Bandjoun) and 0.91 ± 0.02 g/cm 3 (Balatchi). The A horizons of cultivated soils normally have a bulk density ranging from 0.9 to 1.8 g/cm 3 , with values below this range characterizing organic layers or volcanic ash [48] meanwhile clay soils with a Da > 1.55g/cm 3 are unfavourable to root penetration due to their compactness [49]. The normal range of bulk densities for clay soils is between 1.0 and 1.6 g/cm 3 with potential root restriction for Da ≥ 1.4 g/cm 3 [50] [51]. ...
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There is limited information on the pedological requirements of Triumfetta cordifolia. A starting point for establishing such information requires knowledge on the growing environment of the species. The aim of this study was to assess the physicochemical properties and mycorrhizal status in the rhizosphere of Triumeffa cordifolia. Soil and root samples from the rhizosphere of T. cordifolia were collected from three localities (Santchou, Bandjoun, and Ba-latchi) in the West Region of Cameroon. The results show that the soils are dominated by a loamy texture and have a mean porosity > 50%. Mean bulk density ranges from 0.91 ± 0.02 to 1.26 ± 0.04 g•cm −3 .
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In sub-Saharan Africa, malnutrition occurs in various forms going from micronutrient deficiency (MND) to severe malnutrition. In this scenario, African indigenous leafy vegetables (AILVs) could help in alleviating hunger and food insecurity. Principally used by smallholder farmers as subsistence crops thanks to the ease of growing, AILVs have been reported to have valuable nutrient content. Nevertheless, rough handling coupled with microbial activities could lead to phyllosphere deterioration, hence leading to spoilage events that make the sustainable supply and consumption of AILVs difficult. Reviewing the literature regarding AILVs’ phyllosphere microbiota, some bacteria such as Pseudomonadaceae, Enterobacteriaceae, and lactic acid bacteria (LAB) were commonly found. Their ability to deteriorate vegetables is known, thus stressing the necessity to valorize these commodities. In this review, fermentation was deepened as an inexpensive form of food processing to valorize AILVs, modulating the phyllosphere microbiota in favor of fermenting microorganisms. The literature revision revealed that traditional methods implying alkaline fermentation lower the levels of toxigenic compounds in AILVs such as cyanhydric acid. Novel methods involving lactic acid bacteria (LAB) fermentation were also revised. Beneficial LAB are able to control the fermentation, hindering the proliferation of spoilage (i.e. Pseudomonadaceae) and potentially pathogenic bacteria (i.e. Enterobacteriaceae). Aside, the improvement of nutritional content is achieved, obtaining increased levels of B-group vitamins, carotenoids, and the reduction of antinutrient and toxic compounds for certain AILVs. Furthermore, the AILVs’ shelf life is also prolonged, thus further conforming that the final products are valorized by the fermentation processes. Howbeit, this review also points out some weaknesses in the methods. Indeed, alkaline fermentation can allow the growth of toxin-producing Bacillus spp. that can jeopardize the consumers’ health. While the unpredictability of spontaneous LAB fermentation caused in some cases the resilience of certain pathogens such as Enterobacteriaceae. More studies involving alternative ways to inoculate LAB starters such as back slopping might be useful to perfection the fermentation methods and finally valorize AILVs.
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African nightshade (ANS) is among many underexploited and neglected indigenous vegetables. This study assessed the effect of lactic acid fermentation (LAF) on nutritional and sensory quality on Solanum villosum (Sv) and Solanum scabrum (Ss). Spontaneously fermented (SF) and controlled fermented (CF) using Lactobacillus plantarum LP90 and Leuconostoc mesenteroides LM58 were employed for 15 days and 120 h. From the fermented pickles, relish products were prepared using cooking oil and a variety of spices. The relish products were subjected to a consumer acceptability test. Results show a significant drop in pH to < 3.5, increasing titratable acidity (TTA) to around 0.6 after 120 h and 15 days of CF and SF, respectively. LAF resulted in a 2.6 – 5 and 1.6 – 4.8 folds significant rise in β-carotene in pickles and their relish products. All pickles and relish products exhibited a significant decrease (p < 0.05) in vitamin C by 88.33 - 95.90%. LAF significantly reduced total phenolic (26 – 43%) and Chlorophyll (16.45 – 39.25%). On the other hand, LAF showed improvement in minerals content (P, Ca, Fe, and Zn) and reduction of tannins (76.27 – 92.88%) and oxalate (77.33 – 90%) levels. LAF relish products were highly preferred by the consumers, with S. villosum controlled fermented relish (SsCFR) leading. All fermented relishes were stable at ambient (27 °C) and refrigeration (4 °C) temperatures after six months of storage. Generally, LAF is an effective method for ANS preservation, with improved nutritional quality and safety. LAF can therefore be recommended to small-scale farmers, processors, and households for ANS preservation. Ultimately, enhance the nutrition and sensory quality, safety, and livelihood.
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This handbook is the result of five years of research on African Indigenous Vegetables (AIV) production and marketing to support small-scale farmers improve their farming practices. Research on five AIVs (African Nightshade, Amaranth, Cowpea, Ethiopian Kale, and Spiderplant) was conducted to improve their production, marketing, and consumption. This handbook will also help extension workers advise on the farming and marketing of the five AIVs covered. They can use this manual during trainings, workshops, farmer field schools, and community-based study groups. This book describes and promotes low-cost agroecological practices for the sustainable production and successful promotion of AIVs. A sustainable food and agriculture system maintains and improves the fertility of soil, safeguards and enhances the availability and quality of water, protects biodiversity, and produces healthy and safe food while helping farmers and farm workers earn fair incomes. It is necessary to understand agroecological methods and the interconnectivity of farming activities in order to produce high quality vegetables and good yields. This handbook provides an introduction to these methods and encourages farmers to use them when growing AIVs and other crops. More specifically, the handbook covers: • The nutritional benefits of AIVs • The benefits of using quality seeds • How to do a germination test • How to select a site to grow AIVs • How to prepare land for planting • How to prepare and apply organic fertiliser • How to mulch plants • How to manage the most common pests and diseases • How to carry out partial or complete harvests • How to build a charcoal cooler • How to ferment AIVs • How to market AIVs locally These practical needs are explained in easy-to-follow step-by-step tutorials that use inexpensive locally available materials. The tutorials present several options and approaches to the various aspects covered.
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African nightshade (Solanum scabrum) is an important indigenous vegetable in many African countries, yet factors affecting leaf yields have not been fully investigated. A market survey conducted in Kakamega Municipal market in Kenya revealed that broad-leafed African nightshade was among the preferred African vegetables in the region. Besides being rich in micronutrients, it has several medicinal properties and is less bitter than other vegetable nightshades. For the potential of this crop to be exploited, there is a need to look at factors that would contribute to optimal leaf yields. Nitrogen affects growth and development of many leafy vegetables through its effect on cell division and hence leaf expansion. Little work has been reported on nitrogen effects on this emerging crop. The objective of the study was therefore to investigate effects of nitrogen rates on growth and yield of Solanum scabrum. A pot and two field experiments were conducted at Maseno University, Western Kenya, between June 2003 and December 2005. The pot experiment was laid out in a completely randomized design with four treatments and four replications. The treatments included 0, 25, 50, and 75 mg of N per kg. The field experiments were set up in a randomized complete block design with six nitrogen rates and three replications. The treatments included 0, 10, 20, 40, 80, and 100 kg of N per hectare. Nitrogen levels significantly (p ≤ 0.05) affected plant growth and leaf yields in both pot and field experiments with optimal levels at 25 mg N/kg and 40 kg N/ha respectively.
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As with all crops, indigenous or exotic, in Africa there are many different production systems. The main differentiating attributes include location, size, proximity to homestead, commercial or subsistence, nature and quantity of inputs, and whether the crops are planted in mixed or pure stands (see Chapter 1). Different combinations of these attributes result in a wide array of production systems, both within countries and between them. For example, Table 5.1 shows considerable regional differences in AIV production systems between two cities in Uganda. In comparison, in northern Tanzania, approximately one third of AIVs are intercropped, while two-thirds are cultivated in pure stands, with 67 per cent of all plots using sowing rather than broadcasting (Weinberger and Msuya, 2004). Intercropping of AIVs with field crops such as maize, cassava and sugar cane has multiple uses. The ever-changing climatic situation globally has left Africa, in particular, very vulnerable to the unpredictability of weather. Indigenous crops are better placed to withstand drastic changes in natural systems. Intercropping of adaptable species could be used by farmers as an insurance against crop failure. The most commercially viable crops are also produced in farms as opposed to kitchen gardens. Even within urban areas, AIV production systems are not uniform. Gockowski et al (2003) identified three distinctive styles of production across the urban/peri-urban landscape in Yaoundé: 1 an intensive urban (IU) system located within the city limits, characterized by mono-cropping, often on raised beds in inland valleys using high levels of inputs; 2 a semi-intensive peri-urban (SIPU) style extending approximately 30km outside the city limits that also mono-crops on raised beds in inland valleys but using fewer inputs than intensive urban producers; and 3 an extensive peri-urban (EPU) style within an approximate radius of 30km of the city limits that produces AIVs in mixed associations with staple crops and no purchased inputs. In rural areas, subsistence AIV cultivation generally follows an extensive cropping pattern in association with staples or tree crops. AIVs are planted between and around other staple crops such as maize, cassava, etc. In rural areas, production and marketing is undertaken mainly by women. However, as soon as cash generation potential of the crop increases, men become more involved (Jansen van Rensburg et al, 2007) (as is the case with many other natural resources). This may be one of the reasons why more men are involved in production activities in urban and peri-urban areas, while marketing is still left to women. In addition, producers are younger in urban areas, where commercial production is more labour intensive and often necessitates hired labour, which is mainly offered by young men. Some young people who migrated from rural and resource-poor regions in search of improved living standards convert to the production of AIVs when they are unable to secure the jobs they hoped for, which provides them with a source of income and food for subsistence. The further away one moves from the urban centre, women increasingly engage in production activities, while men are called upon for tasks that require greater physical strength. Activities such as ploughing, irrigation, fertilizer and pesticide application have always been considered men’s activities, while sowing, harvesting and trading are considered women’s activities. Although there are a great variety of production systems, the two most common ones, typically differentiated by size and location, are arable fields and home gardens. There are many variations of these.
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Slenderleaf is one of African Leafy Vegetables that has been grown and consumed in Kenya for a long time, its young leaves and shoots are used as a cooked vegetable. Slenderleaf acts as an agent to promote suicidal germination of Striga, a parasitic plant that is a major problem weed for maize and millet growers. One of the major constraints in its production has been poor quality seed and lack of technical packages for optimal production. Although slenderleaf has high germination percentage that occurs within 5 days, there is hardly any information on nitrogen nutrition and the longevity of slenderleaf seed and factors affecting them. The objectives of this study therefore were: to investigate the effect of nitrogen rates on growth, leaf and seed yield of Crotalaria brevidens and to study the effect of storage period on germinability of Crotalaria brevidens. Seeds of slenderleaf were obtained from Maseno University, Botanic garden and subjected to germination tests and then planted in the field in a well prepared seed bed at Maseno University experimental plots at a spacing of 30x30cm.
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Intercropping offers advantages if well planned including improved soil fertility and yields. Bambara groundnuts have been shown to yield in low fertility soils and have been described as a complete food. NERICA rice has been reported to offer higher yields and shorter growing seasons. Cropping systems that combine both these crops in production systems will help alleviate malnutrition and food insecurity. Despite these benefits, interaction of the intercrop species in the intercrop system is key to its success. Differential niche resource mobilization is required for the two crop species to interact positively and eliminate un-necessary competition. Therefore the objective of this study was to evaluate the roots spatial distribution and their growth in Bambara groundnuts (Vigna subterranea) and NERICA rice (Oryza sativa) intercrop system. Greenhouse experiments was set up involving root zone partitioning to allow the roots of the two crops grow separately and unpartitioning which allowed the roots of the two crops to intermingle and interact. The roots length, root density, and root volume was evaluated and subjected to analysis of variance and means separated by LSD at 5% level of significance. Root length, root volume and root density of bambara groundnuts did not show any significant (P>0.05) differences at 24 and 38 DAS but showed significant (P≤0.05) differences in some root diameter classes at 52 DAS. Root length was significantly (P≤0.05) higher in bambara groundnuts grown in association with NERICA rice in the same root zone in the greenhouse at 52 DAS than roots of plants grown in separated root zones as sole crops. On the other hand NERICA rice 11 grown as sole crop in partitioned root zones showed significantly (P≤0.05) higher root length per diameter class as compared to NERICA rice 11 grown in association with bambara groundnuts as intercrops in unpartitioned root zones. The soil volume occupied by bambara roots grown in association with NERICA rice was significantly (P≤0.05) higher than volume occupied by roots of plants grown in sole system in partitioned root zones. NERICA rice 11 roots of plants grown in sole system in partitioned root zone showed significantly (P≤0.05) higher root volume occupation than roots of NERICA rice grown in association with bambara groundnuts in intercrop system in unpartitioned root zone at 52 DAS. The root length of bambara groundnuts grown in association with NERICA rice 11 was higher while the root length of NERICA rice was reduced. Similarly growing the two crops in the same root zone resulted in bambara groundnuts occupying greater soil volume and having higher root density. Therefore this demonstrates differences in niche activities of the two crops showing better resources mobilization under intercropping system. INTRODUCTION Legume-cereal intercropping is a method to obtain greater and more stable crop yields, improve the plant resource utilization (water, light, nutrients), increase the input of leguminous symbiotic nitrogen fixation to the cropping system and reduce negative impacts on the environment [1]. However, due to agricultural intensification of plant breeding, mechanization, and fertilizer and pesticide use over the last 50 years, intercropping has received less attention in many farming systems. Motivations for reintroducing grain-legume-cereal intercropping relate to the problems faced by intensive farming systems. It has become evident that agricultural production systems often characterized by monocultures, nutrient surpluses, and large external input of fertilizer, pesticides and feed concentrates are not sustainable in the long term. On the medium and long term this causes undesirable economic, ecological, environmental and social effects. Intercropping offers the potential for; generating more stable yields, due to self-regulation in the crop. This will give the farmer better insurance against crop failure and will safeguard the farmer's earnings, improving product quality such as greater protein content of cereals, via planned competition, providing an ecological method via competition and natural regulation mechanisms and planned biodiversity to manage weeds and pests, hence reducing the cost of energy for weed and pest control, and improving the synchrony between microbial immobilization-mineralization and crop N demand, due to differences in the quality of the residues and thereby aiding in the conservation of N in the cropping system. Implementation of legume-cereal intercropping into viable crop rotations may solve some of the problems current farming practices are facing. However, knowledge on competitive interactions in intercrops is required to better predict and manage the outcome of competition and
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Nightshade (Solanum L. section e.g. S. scabrum, S. tarderomotum, S. villosum, S. americanum and S. grossidentatum) are widely consumed in East and West Africa due to their potential nutritional and economic benefits but little is known about their production practices. This study was carried out at AVRDC-The World Vegetable Center in Arusha, Tanzania to evaluate the yield response of nightshade to N-fertilization. Eleven promising accessions, representing genetic diversity in 103 nightshade accessions stored at AVRDC-RCA, were selected and evaluated over two seasons in year 2004 and 2005. The experiments were conducted in the field in plots measuring 6 x 2m and laid-out in 4x11 factorial RCBD with 3 replications; at a 50x50 cm spacing. Four rates of urea fertilizer, i.e. control (= no urea added), 60 kg/ha, 90 kg/ha and 120 kg/ha were used as treatments. The urea fertilizer was applied as side-dressing in two equal splits two and six weeks after transplanting. Data on leaf, fruit and seed yield were collected at 2-week intervals beginning 6 weeks after transplanting; and. subjected to ANOVA using CoStat software. Results revealed that fruit and seed yields increased significantly (p≤0.05) with an increase in application of Urea N but differences in leaf yield between N-rates used were non-significant (p≤0.05). Significant differences were observed in leaf, fruit and seed yield components between the accessions evaluated. Line BG 16 recorded the best leaf and seed yields at 24.17 and 6.86t/ha respectively; while the highest fruit yield was recorded with line IP20 which gave 119.59t/ha. It is recommended that Urea N fertilizer should not be applied for leaf production of nightshade while higher rates of up to 120 kgN/ha should be applied for fruit and seed production.