Preserving the past for the future
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CTA. 2007. Preserving the past for the future. Rural Radio Resource Pack 07/5. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57283
How to protect our special indigenous fruits.
Preserving the past for the future Cue: Throughout Africa there are indigenous fruits ? for which there are lots of uses ? that have not really got the attention or protection they deserve. The dika nut in Nigeria and Gabon, the amarula in Kenya: these are all indigenous tree products that are now being recognized as well worth investing in. Are there other indigenous fruits that are not getting the attention or protection that they deserve? Alice Muchugi of the World Agro Forestry in Kenya has been studying the variety of indigenous trees in Kenya. Her work has been a hunt for the sweetest, the juiciest and the highest value fruits to be found. As she explained to Eric Kadenge, for some trees there is a race against time. IN: ?The fruits are normally harvested from the forests? OUT: ?because they can see the benefit.? DUR?N: 3?25? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: Alice Muchugi of the World Agro Forestry Centre in Kenya speaking about the importance of our indigenous trees, and the best ways to preserve them. The interview comes from a resource pack produced by CTA. Transcript Muchugi The fruits are normally harvested from the forest. We no longer have all those vast forests that we were having. We have the forest degradation, so one main problem is that in future, they will not be common, and that is where we try to say that the future of the forest is on the farm itself. For the farmer to plant, there must be a reason why the farmer is planting, it is not just for the local consumption, but if there is a value addition to these fruits, in one way or the other, like for processing or making it more marketable it will have more economic value to the farmer and they are going to plant them more. Kadenge And the information that you are gathering are you also trying to find a way of delivering or providing this information to these farmers? Muchugi We look at how the plants vary from one region to the other because there are differences. Some may be sweeter, others may be growing faster, and different characteristics of the fruit, maybe others produce a lot of juice for those which may be going under processing and all that. But we want to know whether this is linked to genetic differences. So when we carry out genetic analysis, which is very important when it comes to conservation, because this is the material, when you take it to the farm, which will persist in future. So what we find out now we link up with our counterparts. We are getting now to the farmers or to the research institutes, where they are carrying out the work. Kadenge Now other than the scientific knowledge that you are gathering from these trees, do you also incorporate any local knowledge on the same? Muchugi Yes when we go out on the collections we do talk to the indigenous people, the locals. Actually we know the importance of this from the locals themselves because they will tell you ?we do this we do that? and of course you will first notice from the importance they put on that tree and it is by talking to them that we know this is important, they use it for this and that, because they themselves they will tell us and of course we have to try and see, maybe there is an aspect these people know that we can utilise and use it further from a scientific perspective. Some of the differences these farmers see may be linked up to the genetic differences. The sweetness, they grow faster, the shape of the fruits and all that. So that is a good thing that they do help us out. We link up with what we have and what we are analysing and try to up-grade or use it too for their benefit. Kadenge What are the benefits of some of these fruit trees like the baobab or the ones you have mentioned? Muchugi The Indigenous fruits are also very rich in nutrients, especially vitamins. The tamarindus we have is quite rich in proteins and carbohydrates, and it is also rich in minerals like calcium phosphorous, iron. But if the farmers can now plant on the farms themselves they have a cheaper source of the nutrients. Kadenge Do we have some of these indigenous fruit trees on people?s farms here in Kenya for example? Muchugi Tamarindus used to occur naturally, you find it on the farmer?s fields. Kadenge And when you talk about the local communities, how can they preserve the diversity of the indigenous fruits? Muchugi The local communities themselves, for conservation is of course now in the collection of the material from the wild, and bringing them on the farm, in other words called domestication because you are bringing it from the forest and putting it on the farm. And that is one of the major ways of conservation. Because the tree will be there, the farmer is benefiting, they are not cutting it because they can see the benefit. End of track.