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Farm Radio Weekly is a news and information service for rural radio broadcasters in sub-Saharan Africa. It is published by Farm Radio International.

Farm Radio Weekly

Notes to broadcasters on making juice from weeds

There has been a lot of interest recently in growing, processing and marketing indigenous African crops, including vegetables and some plants commonly thought of as weeds. A number of national and international organizations have conducted research and reported on the nutritional or medicinal benefits of the crops, ways to process and market them, and ensure a good, reliable supply of seed.

Here are three recent news stories on African indigenous vegetables.

Kenya: Scientist’s Fight for Adoption of African Vegetables Rewarded

http://allafrica.com/stories/201109100024.html

Kenya: Seed Projects Sprout From Rising Demand for High Value Greens

http://allafrica.com/stories/201104270013.html

Tanzania: Indigenous Vegetables to Fight ‘Hidden Hunger’ http://allafrica.com/stories/201012170600.html

Florence Habwe is the nutritionist quoted in the story. Here are two of her scientific papers which look at the nutritional content of African indigenous vegetables. These are technical papers and may be somewhat difficult to understand. Try reading through the “abstract” at the beginning of the paper. The abstract summarizes the research paper.

Florence O. Habwe et al, 2009. Iron content of the formulated East African indigenous vegetable recipes. Available free online at: http://academicjournals.org/ajfs/PDF/Pdf2009/Dec/Habwe%20et%20al.pdf

Florence Habwe, Mary Walingo and Mary Abukutsa, 2010. Copper and Ascorbic Acid Content of Cooked African Indigenous Vegetables. http://www.tropentag.de/2010/abstracts/full/127.pdf

Here is a full-length book on African vegetables which can be read on-line. It talks about some of the indigenous crops which Mrs. Wanjiru grows, plus many others “lost” or neglected African crops which are receiving new attention.

Lost Crops of Africa: Volume 2: Vegetables. http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11763

This script talks about indigenous African vegetables: A community fights malnutrition with local leafy vegetables (Package 93, Script 3, April 2011). http://www.farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/93-3script_en.asp

FRW has produced several stories on African indigenous vegetables. Here are two:

East Africa: Indigenous vegetables make a comeback (FRW #87, November, 2009) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2009/11/09/2-east-africa-indigenous-vegetables-make-a-comeback-new-vision-new-agriculturalist-2/

Zimbabwe: Renewed interest in traditional food creates opportunities for entrepreneurs and farmers. (FRW #121, July, 2010) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2010/07/26/3-zimbabwe-renewed-interest-in-traditional-food-creates-opportunities-for-entrepreneurs-and-farmers-ips/

Do farmers in your listening audience grow, eat or process indigenous African vegetables? In some areas, such as Nairobi, there is an established market for indigenous vegetables and farmers can make a good income. Talk to extension workers to see if they know farmers who grow indigenous vegetables, either for sale or for home consumption.

You might also want to talk to older farmers. In some cases, knowledge that is lost to younger generations is still held by older farmers. Perhaps there is a farmers’ group or co-operative with older members in your area, maybe linked to an NGO. Talk to these experienced farmers and get their perspective on indigenous vegetables.

If farmers are growing these vegetables in your listening audience, find out why. What are the benefits? Have they tried cooking them, or making juice from them? Tell them the story of Margaret Wanjiru and see what they think.

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