Friday, February 19, 2021

Using Trees


Across the Africa, indigenous fruit trees are valuable assets for local communitiesIndigenous fruits have been collected from the wild for centuries for human consumption and other purposes. Indigenous fruit trees provide vital nutrients that may be scarce in other food sources. They are naturally adapted to local soils and climates, can enhance food and nutrition security and often adapt and survive environmental stresses better than exotic species.

But the natural habitats of trees are being lost, mainly to widespread deforestation resulting from population growth. Industrial agriculture is also contributing to their loss There is still a scarcity of research investment and development for the improvement of underutilised fruit trees in Africa. Many still only grow in the wild. This limits their potential for higher yield and growth.

Research showed that indigenous fruit trees, which occur across different ecological zones in Africa, are rich sources of vitamins, minerals, protein and valuable phytochemicals. They also have recognised medicinal value and are used as therapeutic remedies by many people especially in rural areas with limited access to orthodox health care.

African indigenous fruit trees are under-utilised.

Examples in southern African and other tropical African countries included:

  • African baobab (Adansonia digitata L),

  • Transvaal red milk wood (Mimusops zeyheri Sond.),

  • Wild loquat (Uapaca kirkiana Mull.Arg.),

  • Kei-apple (Dovyalis caffra (Hook.f. & Harv.) Sim), and

  • Mobola plum (Parinari curatellifolia Planch.ex Benth.).

In southern and west Africa we identified that monkey orange (Strychnos spinosa Lam.)

In the south of the Sahel-Savannah region across Africa, especially in West African countries, we identified the balanite (Balanites aegyptiaca (L.) Delile).

The imbe (Garcinia livingstonei T. Anderson) is found in Uganda, the Kingdom of Eswatini (Swaziland), South Africa, Somalia, Angola and Congo.

Also identified the marula (Sclerocarya birrea (A.Rich.) Hochst. subsp. caffra (Sond.) Kokwaro). This is found in Niger, Burkina Faso and Benin. Lastly, the wild medlar (Vangueria infausta Burch.) is found in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana, Eswatini and South Africa.

The availability of fruits from these trees is guaranteed because of the different fruiting periods. This means they are able to meet the food and nutrition needs of the local communities. Also reported is a rich phytochemical and nutritional content across the selected trees. These included fibre, minerals, carbohydrates, organic acids, fats, proteins, iron, calcium, magnesium, sodium, zinc and vitamins. Many of the fruits contain well-known phytochemicals. These included saponins, flavonoids, alkaloids, tannins, cardiac glycosides, terpenes, anthraquinones and phenolics. Examples of the biological activities demonstrated by fruit trees were anti-oxidant, anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory activities.

Africa indigenous fruit trees offer major benefits. But they're being ignored (

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