The Contribution Of Indigenous Vegetables to Household Food Security


A lot of effort has been invested by the Government of Uganda to produce enough food for Uganda’s population and a surplus for export. However, the indigenous vegetables, often referred to as traditional vegetables, have been underrated in favor of introduced exotic vegetables (Rubaihayo, 1995). Hence, the potential of traditional vegetables has not been exploited.

Traditional vegetables are perishable, low yielding and their value as commercial crops has not been explored. Yet, the majority of local farmers cannot always produce exotic vegetables because of the unavailability of seeds and/or high production costs of these vegetables. Unfortunately, the resource-poor urban and rural population often find it difficult to purchase exotic vegetables from local markets because of the high costs. They therefore, depend on traditional vegetables as a regular side dish or sauce accompanying the staple foods such as maize, cassava, sweet potatoes, banana, millet, sorghum and yams (Rubaihayo, 1994). The staple foods provide calories needed for body energy but are very low in other nutrients while the traditional vegetables have a very high nutritive value. They contain vitamin A, B, and C, proteins and minerals such as iron, calcium, phosphorus, iodine and fluorine in varying amounts but adequate for normal growth and health. For example, vitamin A which is required to prevent blindness especially in children is found in all dark green leafy traditional vegetables such as Amaranthus (dodo), Solanum aethiopicum (Nakati), Manihot esculenta (cassava leaves) and Ipomea batatas (sweet potato leaves). On the other hand vegetables like Solanum indicum subsp.. distichum (Katunkuma) are believed to control high blood pressure. The traditional vegetables, therefore, meet the major proteincalorie nutritional needs especially in children, the sick, elderly, expectant and lactating mothers (FAO, 1988).

E.B. Rubaihayo

The Worldbank

The Worldbank


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Underutilized species mentioned
Amaranthus caudatus, Amaranthus cruentus, Amaranthus dubius, Amaranthus gracecisane, Amaranthus hybridus, Amaranthus hypochondriacus, Amaranthus lividus, Amaranthus palmeri, Amaranthus paniculatus, Amaranthus retroflexus, Amaranthus spinosis, Amaranthus tricolor, Amaranthus viridis, Solanum aethiopicum

food basket, food security, indigenous breeds, indigenous knowledge, indigenous species, livelihood improvement, nutritional value, nutrition-human, poverty alleviation

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