Socioeconomic changes, that is Globalization, modernization, or urbanization have influenced the consumption of indigenous traditional vegetables. People’s eating habits have been influenced by commercially prepared ‘modern foods’. People tend to abandon local diets for ‘westernized diets’ despite having varied advantages over exotic vegetables.
Key points on indigenous vegetables:
- Nutritional benefits– They are rich in minerals like iron, antioxidants, and vitamins which are equally important to different age groups and health statuses of persons. Mostly prescribed to anemic persons because of their richness and chronic nutrition-related diseases and micronutrient deficiencies. For example, Cowpea leaves have been exploited for food and feed. They are rich in micronutrients, nutraceuticals, and antioxidants. Some of the antioxidants that have been found in the leaves are alpha tocopherols, flavonoids, lycopene, and anticancer agents. Cowpea vegetables contain important nutrients including vitamins and minerals that can improve the nutritional status of individuals and households with proper utilization. The rich nutritional property of cowpea leaves makes them ideal for efforts aimed at reducing food and nutrition insecurity
- Market demands– Such vegetables remain an important economic pillar to the rural population, majorly women. The demands for indigenous vegetables by patients will continue to rise because of their nutritional contents. This is observed in local eateries and supermarkets where they tend to be very expensive because of limited supply.
- Food security-Their diverse nature and abundant quantity can help improve food self-sufficiency during periods of famine. Indigenous vegetables when managed well lead to surplus production that under favorable storage conditions can be used in periods of scarcity.
- Lower management practices and shorter growth phase– Some Indigenous vegetables take a very short time to mature with very limited management practices such as irrigation, pest, or weed control.
- Tolerant to climate change and variability- they are not affected by adverse changes in climate such as prolonged drought. Most of them are capable of the establishment even in periods of low rainfall
- Pest and Disease resistance– most indigenous vegetables aren’t as much vulnerable to pests and diseases as Exotic vegetables. They can thrive in situations where exotic vegetables can easily get destroyed by pests and diseases.
However, with the changing climatic conditions and demand for indigenous vegetables, it is important to improve on the management practices so as to improve the general production of indigenous vegetables and importantly to ensure none becomes extinct
A review of the contribution of cowpea leaves to food and nutrition security in East Africa
Joshua O. Owade,George Abong’,Michael Okoth,Agnes W. Mwang’ombe