Indigenous vegetables contain vitamins and minerals which are essential in the absorption and metabolism of food ingested by the body. Despite Sub-Saharan Africa being home to hundreds of indigenous vegetables, which can supply the required vitamins and minerals such as β-carotene, vitamins C and E, folates, iron and calcium, these vegetables have not been mainstreamed in the staple diets. Potential consumers of indigenous vegetables complain about the inconsistency in supply and poor quality of products availed to them due to a) seasonality of supply, b) long distances between production areas and potential consumption centres and c) poor post harvest handling.
Though there has been an attempt to improve availability and access to food especially in Northern Uganda which is a post conflict area, the aspect of quality of food has not been accorded ample attention yet it is crucial in addressing qualitative malnutrition. Despite the fact that the National Food and Nutrition Policy of Uganda highlight importance of vegetables in diets, there exist gaps in vegetable consumption.
Objectives of the project:
This research, therefore, intends to improve post harvest handling and preservation of African indigenous vegetables (especially Solanaceae sp) in order to prolong their shelf life and hence increase their consumption in nutritionally vulnerable populations while increasing revenue of those engaged in their production. More specifically, the project intends to generate:
- Better knowledge of indigenous vegetable varieties with prolonged shelflife.
- Increased knowledge about technologies and processes for prolonging shelflife of indigenous vegetables.
- Better understanding of efficient delivery pathways for value added indigenous vegetables to end-markets.
"In June 2013 the European Commission announced the EU’s commitment to support countries in reducing stunting in children under 5 by 7 million by 2025. By doing this the Commission has taken an unprecedented level of commitment among the donor community and has shown the way for others to pledge for measurable and time-bound targets in stunting reduction. In order to attain the desired results, the EU has therefore pledged to mobilize € 3.5 billion, between 2014 and 2020, to attain our nutrition objective”.
Mr Bogdan Stefanescu, Head of Rural Development Section, European Delegation UgandaPartners:
- The project shall be led by Uganda Christian University (UCU) . UCU has previously been involved in conducting research and community outreach programmes on indigenous leafy vegetables in Central Uganda under the HORTCRSP project. Currently it is in a partnership with Biosciences East and Central Africa (BecA- ILRI) to develop molecular tools for improvement of indigenous African Solanaceae vegetables. It is also currently involved in conducting field trials with support from Syngenta for different new vegetable varieties targeting the Ugandan market. UCU also coordinates the African Solanaceae Consortium, Afri-Sol to which Farmgain and CHAIN Uganda are members together with several other organisations with interest in Solanaceae sp.
- The practitioner organisation, Farmgain Africa (FGA) is a private firm with a project history mainly specializing in building the capacity of practitioners in East Africa (NGOs, CBOs and development agencies) in identifying and accessing market opportunities for agricultural commodities (www.farmgainafrica.org). Farmgain not only supports the establishment Agri-value chains but helps private sector actors in developing agro-enterprises.
- The Coalition for Health, Agriculture and Income networks (CHAIN Uganda) is a CBO which builds the capacity of small holder farmers through supporting formation and coordination of self help groups to effectively transition from subsistence levels to commercial farming for improved incomes and livelihood.
- The Natural Resources Institute (NRI) shall be responsible for identifying and cataloguing all available technologies and methods of prolonging shelf life of indigenous vegetables. NRI, specifically members of the Food and Markets Department, shall avail expertise on horticultural post-harvest technologies