Accesibility to and consumption of indigenous vegetables and fruits by rural households in Matungu division, western Kenya.

  • BN Ekesa
  • MK Walingo
  • MO Onyango
Keywords: Consumption, Indigenous, Vegetables, Fruits, Micronutrients

Abstract

Unacceptably high rates of micronutrient deficiencies persist mostly among resourcepoor communities who rely on subsistence farming. In these communities, consumption of vegetables and fruits is the most sustainable way of reducing micronutrient deficiencies. Apart from enhancing dietary diversity, indigenous vegetables and fruits are often easier to grow, resistant to pests, acceptable to local tests, rich and cheap sources of micronutrients. Despite this, they are mostly associated with poverty. This paper gives results on accessibility to and consumption of indigenous vegetables and fruits by rural households obtained from a crosssectional surveys carried out in Matungu division, western Kenya. Accessibility was measured by; availability at local markets, own production and obtaining from natural habitats while consumption was measured using a food frequency questionnaire. Two local markets were purposively selected and 120 households drawn from the population. Data was collected using market surveys and questionnaires and summarized using tables and charts. Of the 372 market stalls only 23.5% and 13.8% of them had indigenous vegetables (9 varieties) and fruits (4 varieties)  respectively. Indigenous vegetables were only cultivated by 11.8% of the households; these included only six varieties and cowpea leaves (Vigna unguilata) were the most popular. Five indigenous fruit varieties were being gathered, and guavas were the most popular. Consumption of up to 9 varieties of indigenous vegetables was observed, with cow peas, jute mallow and amaranths reporting more than 50% consumption. Six varieties of indigenous fruits had been consumed. The low accessibility to and consumption of indigenous vegetables and fruits observed posses a major nutrition problem likely to lead to poor dietary diversity and micronutrient deficiencies. Caregivers, mothers and small-holder farmers should be educated on the role of indigenous vegetables and fruits in food security, nutrition and health. They should also be encouraged and supported to sustainably grow and utilize these fruits and vegetables.
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eISSN: 1684-5374
print ISSN: 1684-5358