Develop market linkages to encourage farmers to plant neglected fruit species

ICRAF Scientist Katja Kehlenbeck spoke to  Carolin Hoffrogge - NDR Info, during Tropentag 2012 conference in Goettingen, Germany. Here is what she had to say:

"Fruit trees can enhance farmers' livelihoods but there are a number of issues currently facing the fruit sector in Africa, for example:

• people are not eating enough fruit as diets change and knowledge on value of fruits for health is poor. 

• there aren't adequate nursery systems in rural areas to provide farmers with high quality fruit tree seedlings.  

We at the World Agroforestry Center work to improve the whole fruit sector, through research on improved varieties of fruits such as mango or avocado, as well as developing efficient, decentralized nursery systems and better markets to sell surpluses. With the existing trees on the farms, the farmers' families eat the fruit but are yet to have linkages to markets that would provide a diversified income. We want the farmers to plant more fruit trees on their farms because there are still growing markets for fruits. And there are many indigenous African fruits such as the baobab, which we want to promote further. Currently, baobab trees on farms are neglected and little fruit is offered at local markets. We want to develop export markets for baobab fruit, which is known in Europe to be very healthy because of its Vitamin C content. 

Fruit trees can also be used to overcome food scarcity during drought, thus ensuring that farmers remain food secure during these hard times."

During that conference, Katja gave a presentation on plant diversity in homegardens of Sulawesi/Indonesia (Title: "The Dynamic Role of Homegardens for Providing Food, Income and Ecological Services in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia") and co-authored a presentation by Martin Wiehle, one of her PhD students, on domestication potentials of Ziziphus spina-christi, an indigenous fruit tree found in Sudanese homegardens (Title: "Homegardens in Sudan - Domestication Spots for Wild Fruit Trees: The Case of Ziziphus spina-christi (L.) Willd.").

Others ICRAF members/associates who presented at the conference in Germany titled, "Tropentag 2012: Resilience of agricultural systems against crises"  included:

Eike Luedeling

Shem Kuyah

Niklas Holten

The conference was held on September 19th  to the 21st, 2012 and saw over 750 participants and delegates.