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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 911: I All Africa Horticultural Congress

INDIGENOUS FRUIT TREES IN HOMEGARDENS OF THE NUBA MOUNTAINS, CENTRAL SUDAN: TREE DIVERSITY AND POTENTIAL FOR IMPROVING THE NUTRITION AND INCOME OF RURAL COMMUNITIES

Authors:   S. Goenster, M. Wiehle, K. Kehlenbeck, R. Jamnadass, J. Gebauer, A. Buerkert
Keywords:   domestication, evenness, food Security, Jubraka, Shannon index
DOI:   10.17660/ActaHortic.2011.911.41
Abstract:
Fruit consumption in eastern Africa is far below the recommended minimum intake per day. Indigenous fruit trees contribute much to nutrition and food security by providing year round vitamin- and mineral-rich products for consumption and sale, particularly for women and children. However, the abundance of indigenous fruit trees is decreasing in the natural vegetation of many East African regions including the Nuba Mountains in Central Sudan. Homegardens may offer an opportunity for cultivating these trees, but information about the diversity of indigenous fruit trees in Nuba homegardens is lacking. Here, 17 randomly selected Nuba homegardens from one village were inventoried for plant diversity; and socioeconomic as well as environmental factors influencing diversity were considered. In total, 103 plant species were recorded, including 40 trees and shrubs. A mean of 22 plant species was cultivated per garden. Fruits accounted for 15% of the total species detected, but only 0.04% of all plant individuals due to the dominance of annual vegetables. This dominance was reflected in rather low overall diversity indices (mean Shannon index 1.32, Shannon evenness 0.44). The total number of indigenous fruit tree species was 12, with a mean of 2.5 per garden and a mean Shannon index of 0.8. Regarding the factors influencing their diversity, garden size corresponded with species richness (positively, R2=0.315) and Shannon evenness (negatively, R2=0.352). Level of commercialization and age, gender or ethnic affiliation of the gardeners were not related to diversity. None of the indigenous fruit trees was planted, but were retained during clearance for crop planting. For many of them, gardeners rather mentioned their value as fence, fodder or fiber than as fruits. To fully exploit the potential of indigenous fruit trees, gardeners need to be provided with quality planting material and tree management knowledge.

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