African Crop Science Journal

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African indigenous and traditional vegetables in Tanzania: Production, post-harvest management, and marketing.

DW Lotter, MJ Marshall, S Weller, A Mugisha


Indigenous and traditional African vegetables (AITVs) are important sources of nutrition for sub-Saharan Africans (SSA), especially the low-income and food insecure. The U.S. Agency for International Development directed Horticulture Collaborative Research Support Program, now named the Horticulture Innovation Lab, builds international partnerships for fruit and vegetable research to improve livelihoods in developing countries. For this Programme a study was carried out to provide baseline information on AITVs in Tanzania and to determine research needs. A questionnaire-based survey was conducted in four regions of Tanzania with a total of 160 sellers and producers of AITVs, with attention to post-harvest management. Key concerns were demographics, i.e. who is growing, transporting, and selling AITVs, AITV identities and quantities, production, harvest, transport, wholesale and retail patterns, processing, and surplus. Common AITVs are greens of amaranths, nightshade, cowpea, cucurbits, Ipomea, cassava tree, spider flower and Ethiopian mustard; plus African eggplant and okra fruits. Ninety six percent of sellers and 71% of producers were female. Most AITVs are sold in roofed open markets, secondarily on streets by mobile or semi-mobile sellers. Amaranth was the number one seller for 83% of sellers. Issues covered were: (i) cultural practices, AITV plot size, seed sources, irrigation and pesticide use; (ii) post-harvest: harvest to market storage and transport times and modes, grading, packaging and bundling, and washing; and (iii) marketing: retail markup, price variation by season, year and region, average daily sales; cell phone use, retail space size and cost, retailer storage, remainders, processing and less common AITVs. OLS regression was done to elucidate factors affecting sales volume and regional differences. Post-harvest losses of AITVs do not appear to be significant as the value chain participants demonstrate an acute knowledge of consumer demand and daily market dynamics.

Key Words: Amaranth, cassava, horticulture, Ipomea, nightshade, post-harvest

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