There is a growing interest in harnessing African indigenous fruits and vegetables (AIFVs) to address food insecurity on the continent, particularly in West Africa. Not only are AIFVs rich in micronutrients—such as iron, vitamins A and C, beta carotene, and calcium—which are often lacking in the modern West African diet, but they are also well adapted to the drought and poor soil conditions that can typify the region.
This project, led by Principal Investigator Dr. Fred E Asem of the University of Ghana, in partnership with the World Vegetable Center, investigates how to increase production, consumption, and income generation of AIFVs in Ghana and Mali. This will be accomplished through four integrated strategies: 1) analyze AIFV nutritional profiles, microbiological safety, genetic diversity, climate resilience, yield performance, and socioeconomic relevance; 2) strengthen AIFV seed production systems through assessing their current weaknesses and training farmers, seed producers, and enterprises on improved practices; 3) develop value-added AIFV food products through understanding consumer preferences; and 4) increase AIFV consumption through school gardening and feeding programs in Ghana and Mali.
The project will increase AIFV consumption by addressing actors along the value chain, from seed producers to end consumers and production through access to improved varietals and a database profiling the AIFVs specifically for West Africa. By taking into account stakeholder input at every stage of the project, researchers will gain a comprehensive understanding of how AIFVs can significantly contribute to food and nutrition security across West Africa.