|Authors: ||F.K. Akinnifesi, F.R. Kwesiga, J. Mhango, A. Mkonda, T. Chilanga, R. Swai|
Most countries in Southern Africa are experiencing acute malnutrition, food insecurity, and low income among the rural and peri-urban population, and these culminate in deforestation and loss of biodiversity.
The Miombo woodlands are known to have over 75 indigenous fruit trees (IFTs), which bear edible fruits.
The fruits are rich in minerals and vitamins, sold for cash income and constitute important food sources during famines and or emergencies.
This paper provides an overview of some efforts to domesticate the IFTs identified by farmers and users as priority species, as an important step to provide opportunities for resource-poor farmers to cultivate and generate income from sale of fresh and processed products, and to conserve the genetic potential of these species.
The approach used involves four basic steps: 1) identification of priority species by communities and other users, 2) participatory selection of superior trees and naming them in situ, 3) propagation and cultivation of trees as fruit orchards, and 4) dissemination and adoption. Uapaca kirkiana, Parinari curatellifolia, Strychnos cocculoides and Sclerocarya birrea have been identified by farmers and stakeholders as priority species for domestication in the southern Africa region.
Germplasm of Uapaca and Sclerocarya were collected, exchanged among countries, and tested in multilocational provenance trials.
Over 5000 farmers in four countries are involved in on-farm testing of IFTs in the field and homesteads.
A new domestication strategy is developed for the participatory domestication of Uapaca kirkiana, using the rapid clonal selection approach.
A strong network of stakeholders and farmers has shown strong enthusiasm, commitment, and participation in the domestication of IFTs.
Creation of an enabling environment through policy reforms and market development will be essential to achieve socio-economic empowerment of the resource poor farmers in the region through domestication, utilization and commercialization of fruits and products.
There is need for product development research, private sector involvement and strong policy support, in order to have tangible impact.
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