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On-going Efforts to Revive Knowledge and Use of Kenya's Indigenous Plants

In 1989, Kenya's National Museums, with the help of two NGO's, began a program to compile a database of indigenous food plants. Included in the data collected was information on the agronomy, nutrition, culture and markets for priority
species. The purpose was to promote cultivation, consumption and marketing of these ancient food sources. With participation from nearly 140,000 people, who reached a further million people and the taste for indigenous plants revived among young people, the project was considered a success.

Despite ongoing efforts and some success in reaching people, particularly the young, with the message that indigenous plants are as good or better compared to non-native, monocropped food, recent drought exposed the need to do much more. Native plants are much hardier when compared to introduced varieties and require less water. Crops like grain amaranth have high protein content, in the range of 10-15 percent, which is higher than that of the traditional maize which still forms the backbone of Kenyan diet.

According to Professor Mary Abukutsa-Onyango, dependence on Western style agriculture needs to be reduced. Since natural medicines also come from indigenous plants, the Professor is hoping to develop use of these as well.

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Comment by Samiran Roy on May 3, 2010 at 3:40am


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