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From: Adding value to food – Footsteps 65

Practical ideas for adding value to food

The Kenya Resource Centre for Indigenous Knowledge (KENRIK) has documented all food plants in Kenya. Their work shows the potential of indigenous food plants in improving food security. In Africa, around 4,000 species of plants have the potential for producing food, with about 1,000 species used as leafy vegetables.

Traditional vegetables are usually rich in nutrients such as vitamin Aand iron – often lacking in the diets of children and pregnant women. However, there are many things that limit their use.

To use most of these vegetables, the green leaves and young stems are collected, washed and chopped. They are usually either steamed or boiled with other leafy vegetables and then fried with spices, onions and tomatoes. There are plenty of opportunities for new income-generating ideas to produce products using traditional leafy vegetables, especially in ways that make them more convenient to process, market and prepare.

KENRIK’s work has identified some helpful lessons:

Dr Patrick Maundu is head of the Kenya Resource Centre for Indigenous Knowledge (KENRIK), PO Box 62876, Nairobi, Kenya.

Processing shea butter

Shea butter nuts are another traditional wild food, whose value for food and cosmetic purposes has been more widely realised in recent years. Shea butter comes from the shea tree – Vitellaria paradoxa or Karite and is much valued for its benefits to skin. Here is some advice from women experienced in producing shea butter, and from experts, to improve both the quantity and the quality of the butter extracted. This is particularly important if the butter is to be sold for export. There is a rapidly growing market in Europe for shea butter.

Taken from Les Fiches Techniques des paysannes africaines by Marie-Thérèse Abela. Published by GRAD.

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