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Tropentag, September 17 - 19, 2014 in Prague, Czech Republic

"Bridging the gap between increasing knowledge and decreasing resources"

Species Diversity and Post-Harvest Practices on the Forest Edge Homegardens in Southwestern Uganda

Cory Whitney, Jens Gebauer

Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences, Fac. of Life Sciences, Germany


Post-harvest losses (PHL) destroy between 20 and 60% of the East-African food production, thus heavily contributing to the devastating nutritional situation. Homegarden species and their varieties are an important genetic pool for selecting species with high post-harvest performance. To screen for plant diversity and post-harvest handling, 34 forest edge homegardens in three villages of southwestern Uganda's Greater Bushenyi region were inventoried in 2014.

An initial assessment of garden diversity found that homegardens in Kinoko-A had a total of 54 plant species with 20 indigenous, Kinoko-B had 61 plants with 28 indigenous, and Remitagu 76 plants with 29 indigenous. Of the total 48 indigenous species found, 7, 10, and 10 plants were unique to Kinoko-A, Kinoko-B, and Remitagu, respectively. The most prominent species in Kinoko-A was amaranth (Amaranthus dubius Mart. ex. Thell), with an average of 493 individual plants per garden. Amaranth has a year-round harvest and is not stored. The most common plant in Kinoko-B was banana (Musa accuminata Colla (AAA Group)), with an average of 152 individuals per garden. Farmers had no post-harvest practices for bananas, which rot soon after maturity. In Remitagu the most common species was cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) with an average of 191 individuals per garden. Cassava is stored longer term and/or dried and made into a powder to mix in the common local dishes Kalo and Posho.

Gardeners indicated post-harvest practices for some plants in the homegardens (32, 37, and 44 of the plant species in the respective villages). The local Robusta variety of coffee (Coffea canephora P. var.) was cited for the most post-harvest practices; it is commonly dried in the sun before sale. Next most important were cassava and string bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) in Kinoko-A, chili (Capsicum frutescens L.) and cassava in Kinoko-B, and chili, and taro (Colocasia esculenta (L.) Schott) in Remitagu. Sun drying was the main practice employed by gardeners to preserve these plants, while some roots were also stored longer term.

Keywords: Agrobiodiversity, homegardens, post-harvest, Uganda

Contact Address: Cory Whitney, Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences, Fac. of Life Sciences, Marie-Curie-Straße 1, 47533 Kleve, Germany, e-mail: cory.whitney@hsrw.eu

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