Seeds for traditional crops
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CTA. 1986. Seeds for traditional crops. Spore 4. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/44498
Zambian nutritional experts are echoing findings by local agricultural scientists, in order to encourage consumers to grow and buy time-tested traditional food varieties. Zam Seed, the national seed company funded by the Swedish International...
Zambian nutritional experts are echoing findings by local agricultural scientists, in order to encourage consumers to grow and buy time-tested traditional food varieties. Zam Seed, the national seed company funded by the Swedish International Development Authority (SIDA), has already begun selling seed packets of traditional vegetables. Roots, leaves, tubers and fruits which were discovered, grown and collected largely by women farmers, went out of fashion in Zambia when people left the land to work in the copper mines or towns. According to Dr N.A. Mnzava of Zambia's National Irrigation Research Station (NIRS) Zambians should take a new look at their traditional varieties now that the country's food imports cost US$150 million a year. Scientific research into traditional food is yielding good results. The leafy green weed Cleome gynandra (known locally as 'suntha') is more nutritious than the domestic cabbage favoured by most Zambians. Cleome leaves have four times more protein, six times more iron and calcium and 30 times more vitamin A than cabbage. Other traditional crops include cabbage-like leaves of the brassica family, the African eggplant (Solanum macrocarpon) and various species of amaranthus (a wild grain species). Researchers have developed two strains of amaranthus, one bred for its leaf, and the other for the grain, from which biscuits have been made locally on a trial basis. Most of the experimental research on wild vegetables has been carried out at NIRS, located south of Lusaka. Dr Mnzava and his colleagues have found that cleome seeds contain 50 % polyunsaturated mechanically extractable oil, which is edible without refining. More than 300 kilogrammes of seeds can be harvested from one hectare. For further information contact: Earthscan 3, Endsleigh Street LONDON WC1 ODD United Kingdom