Africa’s Indigenous Vegetables, Nutrition and Economic Empowerment of Rural Women

Indigenous Vegetable Production and the Economic Empowerment of Rural Women in Africa: Reality, Prospects, and Challenges in Rwanda

Chika Ezeanya-Esiobu, Nathan Kanuma Taremwa, Olivier Mugwaneza, Nambajimana Djamali

Abstract

In many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, indigenous vegetables have added important nutritional value to the diets of locals for hundreds of years. Women, who are traditionally in charge of family nutrition, have been more involved in cultivating or collecting indigenous vegetables. Studies on indigenous vegetables have pointed to the vegetables’ higher levels of micronutrients. These nutrients are greater than their modern or exotic counterparts, which are now more regularly consumed across the region. However, in more recent times, there has been a noticeable reduction in the cultivation and consumption of indigenous vegetables across sub-Saharan Africa. In some communities, cultivation and consumption of indigenous vegetables have been relegated to the rural areas and have become the concern of older, rural women. This study explores the role of rural women in the production of indigenous vegetables in Rwanda, especially in view of the preponderance and consumer preference for modern vegetables in the country’s recent history. Further, the study probes into the nutritional and economic importance of indigenous vegetables in Rwanda, with emphasis on how rural women stand to expand their earning power through scaling up their production capacity.

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Published in “Indigenous Knowledge: Other Ways of Knowing” (4) Pages 133-156.