Cultivating an endangered vine
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CTA. 2007. Cultivating an endangered vine. Rural Radio Resource Pack 07/3. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57456
Cultivation, processing and marketing of Mondia whytei, a vine that is normally harvested from forest areas.
Cultivating an endangered vine Cue: Mondia whytei is a medicinal plant found in the tropics - from West Africa to eastern and southern Africa. The root of the plant is highly valued as a flavouring and an appetiser, and it is also a good source of vitamins and minerals. In Kenya, the Kakamega Forest is one of the most important areas where mondia is found. Unfortunately, the supply is being threatened by over-harvesting. Recently, however, a number of organisations including the Kenya Forestry Research Institute, have introduced a programme to train people in awareness and conservation of mondia in the forest. The programme, which is called KEEP, has introduced the cultivation of mondia, and the roots of the plant are now being sold by the farmers, for production of a powder which has both medicinal and nutritional benefits. Winnie Onyimbo spoke to Kavaka Watai Mukonyi from the Forestry Research Institute and began by asking him what KEEP stands for. IN: ?KEEP stands for Kakamega Environmental? OUT: ?crops maize and sugarcane by far.? DUR?N: 4?06? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: Kavaka Watai Mukonyi of the Kenya Forestry Research Institute, which has been working to introduce cultivation and sustainable harvesting of the medicinal plant, Mondia whytei, in Kenya?s Kakamega forest. The interview comes from a resource pack produced by CTA. Transcript Mukonyi KEEP stands for Kakamega Environmental Educational Programme. It is an association of youth groups all over Kakamega Forest. There are over a hundred members registered. They train people in awareness and importance of conservation of Kakamega Forest. Kakamega Forest is threatened by various factors from over harvesting, exploitation of these medicinal plants including mondia. So they are the ones now we have developed a technology of processing, harvesting and post harvest handling and KEEP now train their communities around the Kakamega Forest. Onyimbo What processes did you have to go through to have mondia certified as a useable product for consumers? Mukonyi Mondia is an edible plant that is eaten by tribes all over. So it is a food. That is one step of certification, whereby it has been eaten as food and as medicinal for centuries by humankind. So it is not poisonous. The second step of certification is we have done analysis on nutritional value, the phyto-chemicals and toxicology. It is not toxic to man and other animals. These are quality assurance when it comes to certification. And another part of certification on sustainable harvesting, so whatever they harvest they are given a letter showing the source; if it was from the farm, if it was from the forest and quantities are monitored. These are the certification procedures that have been put in place by institutions working with KEEP. Onyimbo How is Mondia whytei processed and packaged? Mukonyi When processing we take into consideration quality assurance. This comes all the way from harvesting and post harvest handling. Now when we harvest from the field we ensure that they are very clean and they go to the processing centre where they are sorted into various crates. But in each process you find quality assurance procedures are put in place. The microbial toxic elements are determined in each and every step to ensure that the quality is maintained at all levels before it reaches the consumer. And every quantity that is sold, a badge is left to ensure at a particular period the quality is in place within the international standards required for medicinal plants. Onyimbo What about the marketing? Mukonyi Marketing of medicinal plants is a bit complex. The challenge is linking from the primary to the market. So what we did now we have a processor in Kakamega where they are harvesting the plants and taking to the processing farm. So linking the production and the market, this was one of the major challenges. First we begin by the locals where their plant is highly revered because we have a population of over one million in western Kenya and then we have been focusing on major market outlets. These are the big supermarkets where they are packaged and put in and advertised also from newspapers, radios, mostly various products ranging from the developed products. We have the mondia seedlings, we have the mondia seeds; these are the various products that are marketed mostly through advertisements. Most people prefer the powder, the powder is highly preferred mostly from those in hospitals because it is so good for the appetite, it is so good for the nursing mothers, it increases milk production. We are even putting it in fortified foods. Onyimbo How has been the response of the community around Kakamega Forest to your work? Mukonyi Putting a new plant in cultivation is not an easy job because they are used to planting maize and sugarcane, so we had to convince them. So it picked up slowly but right now it has picked up, we are not even telling them to plant. There is now a massive planting from all over western Kenya and not only in western Kenya they have spread to most parts of Kenya going to Kilimanjaro where people are really planting large scale because, when you compute, the income from mondia is more than the conventional crops maize and sugarcane by far. End of track.