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Indigenous greens capture global attention for nutritional and environmental benefits

Kenyan growers making good money from traditional vegetables

Last Monday, Kenya Ambassador to France/Portugal/Serbia/Monaco in a tweet highlighted just how in-demand traditional Kenyan vegetables were around the world. "Our traditional brands can thrive! Look at our homegrown dried “Saga” or “Chisaka," she tweeted.

Chisaka (Spider Plant) is a popular traditional vegetable dish among the Abagusii. However, many Kenyans moving towards traditional foods. The indigenous vegetable is gaining favour across the world due to its richness in iron, which is important for body development. Spider plant vegetables can yield 100 bags of leaves and 1bag of seeds per acre of land. The crop is ready for harvesting within 45 days after sowing.

A 500gm pack of Kenyan Spider plant on sale in the US. Image: Twitter

Just a few years ago, these traditional vegetables were largely ignored by seed companies and researchers, so they lagged behind commercial crops in terms of productivity and sometimes quality.

Flashforward to 2020/2021 and indigenous vegetables are in vogue. They fill shelves at large supermarkets even in Nairobi, and seed companies are breeding more of the traditional varieties every year.


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