Posted in Latest News on Sunday, 10 July 2011. Hits 5710 Print


In a recently initiated project which will see the increase in consumption and production of Zambian indigenous vegetables, Agribusiness in Sustainable Natural African Plant Products (ASNAPP) has partnered with Purdue and Rutgers Universities in the Horticulture Collaboration Research Support Program (Hort CRSP).

The project is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). It aims at enhancing the potential for production, utilization and marketing of African Indigenous Vegetables (AIVs) in Zambia, Kenya and Tanzania.
Speaking at the projects’ first training workshop held at Sun International Hotel in Livingstone, Professor of Horticulture and Principle Investigator of the project, Dr. Steve Weller said the project’s goal is to establish a base of information and experience for greater production and use of indigenous vegetables that in the long-term will provide a source of food that improves nutrition, health and economic security for Zambians.

“The emphasis in our program is on interventions along the market chain to improve smallholder’s ability to produce food and increase incomes while contributing to increased food security and nutrition for the population. The project is introducing post harvesting techniques – small inexpensive things that are valuable for small scale farmers. Other activities in the project include imparting knowledge on AIV germplasm, establishing local seed banks, providing quality seeds for production, transfer of improved production techniques to stakeholders, and market analysis,” he said.

Dr. Weller further revealed that the project is focusing on increased production of three AIV species; Amaranth (Bondwe in Bemba, Libowa in Lozi, Bonongwe in Nyanja and Bonko in Tonga), Nightshade (Ndulwe or Nkila in Bemba, Ntuma in Nyanja and Ndulwe in Tonga) and Spider plant (Shungwa in Tonga, Lubanga in Bemba and Sunta in Nyanja), which will be handled as separate trials at a demonstration site at Nsongwe Women association in Livingstone, and another site at Matuta’s farm in Lusaka. So far five varieties from each species are under evaluation.

Research shows that AIVs contain higher levels of nutrients than commonly grown vegetables like cabbage. Amaranth leaves are rich in proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Nightshade and spider plant are rich sources of vitamins and minerals and have medicinal properties. These vegetables are popular in cultural diets and have potential for increased production and use in areas where traditionally grown.

The project has engaged markets including Sun International and other hotels and lodges in Livingstone and Lusaka. Sylvia Food Solutions is another local company that has been engaged to process the farmers’ produce into a variety of innovative products.
Sun International Corporate Social Investment Manager, Mr. Stain Musungaila said it was tremendous to see partnerships that worked and added value to farmers’ produce.
“Zambian indigenous foods are a preferred menu among our guests in our two hotels. We would love to see an increased production of these indigenous vegetables and possibly have a year round production for our guests’ consumption.”

Mr. Musungaila urged the participating farmers to work hard and also be willing and have the determination to practice what they learnt at the workshop.
Giving a vote of thanks, District Marketing and Development Officer under the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock in Livingstone, Dorcas Mwenda said, “Projects such as these tap the potential and resources that are within the communities’ reach. We have treated some of these vegetables as weeds without knowing that they can provide a healthy source of nutrition in our homes and also provide some form of livelihood. I wish the farmers all the best as they undertake this project. I urge ASNAPP to continue supporting government and wish them a successful implementation of the project.”