The dependency of many African rural households on natural resources for sustenance is widely acknowledged. The utilization and commercialization of indigenous fruit trees (IFTs) has in the past been overlooked by extension agencies due to the misconception that they do not play a major role in contributing to the rural livelihoods. There is new and increasing emphasis on the contribution of indigenous fruit trees (IFTs) on improving rural livelihoods in the Miombowoodlands. A study was conducted in Mwekera area in Zambia using participatory rural appraisal techniques to ascertain the significance of IFTs in the livelihoods.The study revealed that 97% of the respondents collect indigenous fruits and ranked in order of importance Uapaca kirkiana, Anisophyllea boehmii and Parinari curatellifolia. The study has revealed that 46% of households process the fruit into juices and/or porridges. Furthermore IFTs are also used as traditional medicine. Sixty three percent (63%) of the households used IFTs for medicinal purposes with two-thirds of the respondents citing A. boehmii as an important medicinal tree species. The study also showed that 85% of the respondents have seen a change in the forest cover resulting into loss of biodiversity with the respondents indicating that the change is with respect to reduction in forest size and scarcity of some species. Fewer trees mean less forest derived foods and medicine for the local people. It is concluded that IFTs have both food and non-food value to the local communities and are hence significant in sustaining households.
Key words: Indigenous fruit trees (IFTs), rural livelihoods, processing, food security, biodiversity, miombo woodlands. Africa (NERICA), Oryza sativa, Oryza glaberrima.
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