Accepted Paper:

Promotion of neglected foods in Kenya: Case of African Leafy vegetables  


Ruth Adeka (National Museums of Kenya)

Paper long abstract:

Kenya has a high diversity of leafy vegetables with 200 species used traditionally. Most of these are neglected in urban areas and mainly consumed in specific rural localities where they are picked from the wild mainly when cultivated species are out of season. A few are however well-known vegetables that are fully cultivated or semi cultivated. Over the last half century, consumption of these vegetables particularly in urban areas had been on the decline mainly due to their being associated with the poor and less modernized people. Most urban dwellers abandoned eating their traditional vegetables in favour of exotic vegetables like kale and white cabbage.

A multi-stakeholder programme initiated in 1996 to promote research and use of African Leafy Vegetables (ALVs) is now bearing fruit. Promotion using a variety of techniques in the years 2001-2005 was carried out simultaneously with training of farmers and development of value chains. An on-going market survey of urban markets indicates that there has been successful introduction of about 12 species to the formal markets. Sunhemp, Ethiopian kale, African nightshades, spider-plant, Jew’s mallow among others have now become regular vegetables in formal markets like supermarkets. Their appearance in the formal markets has given them higher status, leading to an upsurge in demand and their increase in the informal market.

This paper explores some of the ingredients necessary for successful promotion of neglected but nutritious species using the success story of promotion of indigenous vegetables in Kenya as an example.

Panel F5
Environmental knowledge and African philosophy