NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Farming of the hugely popular indigenous African vegetables in
Kenya has received a boost as farmers are now growing
fast-maturing, high-yielding varieties.
Growing of the
vegetables, consumed widely across the East African nation by
health conscious consumers, has not been in tandem with rise in
demand as farmers relied on the traditional species, most of
which grow naturally.
Kenya Plant Health
Inspectorate Service, however, recently released certified seeds
of nightshade, vine spinach, jute mallow, and spider plant,
giving farmers an opportunity to reap big from their ventures.
Moses Alumiti, a
farmer in Rongai, a suburb on the outskirts of Nairobi, is among
those growing the new varieties of seeds.
“I heard of the new
seeds about three months ago and went for them in Nairobi. I
have already had my first harvest and I am impressed,” he said.
“Not only are the
vegetables maturing faster, in about two months, they are also
offering leafy plants that fetch more in the market,” said
Alumiti, who sells a small bunch of the vegetables at 0.09 U.S.
Mary Abukutsa, a
professor of horticulture at the Jomo Kenyatta University of
Agriculture and Technology, who has been licensed to
commercialize the new varieties said the seeds will foster
production and consumption of the indigenous crops.
maturity and resistance to drought and diseases, the vegetables
are highly nutritious,” Abukutsa said.
“The quantities of
valuable macro nutrients such as iron, calcium, vitamins in the
vegetables are higher compared to some of exotic vegetables,”
Abukutsa said, adding that the vegetables contain high levels of
antioxidants; substances that reduces risk of heart diseases and
certain types of cancer.
for many years have for long been treated as weeds but with the
growing popularity, they have found their way into the formal
economy and are now sold in supermarkets at a pricey amount.
Initially, the veges
made less than 50 percent of all vegetables consumed in the
country because they were considered a poor man’s crop.
increased demand, the plants make more than half of all veges
consumed in the East African nation, according to the Kenya
Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization.
vegetables have a lot of advantages over the exotic vegetables
like cabbage and Sukuma wiki because they don’t require a lot of
inputs such as fertilizers and are resistant to pests.