Indigenous vegetables have long been regarded as 'minor crops' and excluded from research attention, in favour of major food and cash crops. This overview of the most common indigenous vegetables in Africa argues that channeling some 'R and D' in their direction could have a significant impact on both food security and health among the continent's poorest. Indigenous vegetables tend to have short production cycles, require intensive labour but few purchased inputs, and produce high yields with strong nutritional value. They can therefore support rural, peri-urban and urban populations both in terms of subsistence and income-generation, without requiring large capital investments. In some areas they are also becoming popular with commercial growers.
An overview is given of 126 African vegetables, but only the 25 most commonly cultivated crops are covered in detail. The genera are: Amaranthus, Celosia, Cleome, Bidens, Crassocephalum, Solanecio, Struchium, Launea, Vernonia, Brassica, Eruca, Lepidium, Rorippa, Citrullus, Coccinia, Cucumeropsis, Cucumis, Kedrostis, Lagenaria, Momordica, Telfairia, Gnetum, Plectranthus, Solenostemon, Crotalaria, Cyamopsis, Lablab, Psophocarpus, Senna, Sphenostylis, Tylosema, Abelmoschus, Hibiscus, Sesamum, Ceratotheca, Portulaca, Talinum, Solanum, Corchorus, Triumfetta, Asystasia, Cyphia, and Ensete. Subjects include: agronomy, varieties, pests and diseases, related species, botanical aspects, pollination and breeding, distribution, food and nutrition, other uses, marketing and post-harvest treatments. Other subjects are: the socio-economic importance of indigenous vegetables; crop development and promotion; and, main constraints facing farmers wishing to grow African vegetables.
The book can be obtained by writing to NRI Catalogue Services, CAB International, Wallingford, Oxon OX10 8DE, UK and quoting CRG7. The CD can be obtained from NR International, Park House, Bradford Lane, Aylesford Kent ME20 6SN, UK.
Shippers, R.R. African Indigenous Vegetables: An overview of the cultivated species. University of Greenwich, Natural Resources Institute, London, UK (2000) 222 pp. ISBN 0 85954 515 6