Production, processing and storage techniques of African nightshade (Solanum spp.) seeds and their correlations with farmers’ characteristics in western Kenya
Nightshade (Solanum species) is a priority African indigenous vegetable of great importance that plays a significant role in nutrition, food security and income generation. Much research attention on nightshade has focused on leaf yields, nutritional value, agronomic practices and post-harvest handling. However, African nightshade production is mainly constrained by lack of quality seeds occasioned by methods of seed harvesting, processing and storage. This study sought to find out existing knowledge on methods of seed harvesting, processing and storage techniques and their associations with farmers’ characteristics. A household survey was done in Siaya, Kakamega, Vihiga, Kisumu, Busia and Kisii counties in Kenya between June 2014 and June 2015. The survey targeted farmers who produced and processed nightshade seeds in a bid to document existing methods of nightshade seed harvesting, processing and storage techniques. Purposive sampling was conducted on the targeted counties so as to survey only households that grow and process nightshade seeds. Scheduled interviews together with structured questionnaires were used to collect data. A total of 60 farmers were interviewed. Data were collected on nightshade production, cultural practices, harvesting processing and storage techniques, seed accessibility and availability, seed quality, quantity, cost and the challenges facing the nightshade seed production. Data collected were subjected to descriptive statistics using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 21. Significantly more women were involved in nightshade seed production than men (X2= 4.81, P = 0.028). While, the level of education of farmers significantly influenced seed sourcing (X2 = 17.99, P = 0.021), the age and sex of farmers did not affect seed sourcing. The choice of methods used for nightshade seed extraction was not significantly associated with age, sex and the level of education. Similarly, nightshade seed packaging and storage techniques are not influenced by age, sex and level of education. Nightshade seed processing techniques were predominantly traditional and the seed systems informal. Farmers produced their own seeds and stored them for periods of less than one year. Therefore, farmers should be trained on production, storage and use of quality African nightshade seeds and more studies that focus on improvement, standardising and formalizing nightshade seed systems should be done.
Keywords: Indigenous vegetables, Nightshade seeds, Production, Harvesting, Processing, Storage techniques, Seed systems