Africa indigenous vegetables face extinction!

Kenya like many other African countries faces double nutrition burden – undernutrition and over-nutrition. The former is due to inadequate nutrient intake and the latter could be attributed to changes in lifestyle such as consumption of western food junks coupled with a sedentary lifestyle, paraphrased from Anne Aswani Musotsi’s presentation. Anne is from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Kenya and she presented on – “African Indigenous Vegetables (AIV) Contribution Towards Food Security and Safety in Kenya: A Meal Cultures Perspective”. She mentioned that AIV could ensure nutrition security but unfortunately the consumption is low and many of the vegetables are going into extinction. This is counterintuitive especially in a society with malnutrition and millions of people suffering from avoidable and irreversible nutritional consequences. AIV consumption is very low. Due to changes in cultural practices over the years, people eat other crops and shifted attention from indigenous vegetables – colonial influence paradigm.

Using focus group discussion method, Anne’s project identified available AIV species and got information about the ancient preparation methods. Eight varieties of AIV has been identified and the focus is currently on educating people on how to prepare and cook them. The optimized methods are now being used for teaching people about the preparation and cooking of the AIV. The major factors influencing the consumption of the AIV are available resources for preparation and cooking. Issues such as water and fuel use were mention. AIV requires up to 10 gallons of water for washing and preparation depending on the quantity. Water source could be very distant and unsafe due to contamination. Likewise, the fuel consumption during cooking is relatively high, hence alternative clean and cheap energy source will go a long way to help in the utilization of AIV. Motivation to cultivate AIV in the local communities is another challenge. To address this issue, one of the participants suggested that the government can play a great role. The government and local institutions can encourage the release of new seeds and domestication of more varieties. Issues about shelf life and marketing framework are still areas to be addressed.



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