Journal article Open Access

Potentials and Utilization of Indigenous Fruit Trees for Food and Nutrition Security in East Africa

Benard O. Muok

Although global food production has substantially increased in the past few decades, nearly 870 million people still live in hunger today, most of them in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. The harvesting, utilization and marketing of indigenous fruit trees and nuts have been central to the livelihoods of majority of rural communities throughout Africa and can make a difference during period of famine and food scarcity. Given the important role that IFTs play, concerted effort is needed to promote their utilization and commercialization for improved livelihoods in eastern Africa. This paper is based on a survey conducted to identify priority IFTs in east Africa with market potential. The survey was conducted in three east Africa countries of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda particularly targeting the dry land areas. Selection of study villages in all the three collaborating countries was based on the on the abundance of IFTs and their utilization.  A total of 10, 14 and 11 villages were used in the study from Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania respectively. The results showed that IFTS is still playing an important role as a dietary supplement in the rural areas. The study identified four IFTs as a priority in the Eat African region, which includes Tamarindus indica, Vitex doniana or Vitex mombassae and Sclerocarya birrea.

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