Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

African indigenous vegetable enterprises and market access for small-scale farmers in East Africa.

Abstract

African indigenous vegetables (AIVs) have been part of the food systems in sub-Saharan Africa for generations. The region is a natural habitat for more than 45,000 species of plants, of which about 1,000 can be eaten as green leafy or fruit vegetables that happen to be the mainstay of traditional diets. During the colonial era, adventurers and slavers sailing in Africa introduced exotic plants such as maize, cassava and beans and, later, commercial crops such as sugarcane, cocoa, coffee and cotton, which began contributing more to life. Farmers integrated these crops into their age-old livelihood strategies at the expense of traditional subsistence crops. AIVs were almost entirely neglected and considered 'poor people's' plants. To reverse the trend, FARM-Africa and its partners reintroduced AIVs which are now forming part of families' diets as well as becoming a source of income for smallholder farmers in Arumeru, Tanzania and Kiambu, Kenya. AIVs are robust and productive, and thus well suited to feeding the hungriest and most vulnerable sections of society.