In Uganda, some types of African leafy vegetables remain popular and are still widely grown. In Central Uganda the most commonly eaten indigenous vegetable species is Nakati (Solanum aethiopicum) which is usually cultivated by women. Some types of Nakati are eaten for their leaves and others for their fruits. Nakati fruits generally look like a tomato or an eggplant but they vary considerably in their appearance, often even within a landrace. Amaranthus is another group of plants that are consumed in the country, including Bbuga (Amaranthus Gracecizans) and Doodo (Amaranthus Dubius).
So far a collection of about 190 different indigenous vegetables has been assembled at the Uganda Christian University in Mukono. This has been done in a participatory manner with local communities who shared information about the landraces they are growing and gave their views on challenges and opportunities in indigenous vegetable production.
This consortium is researching appropriate methods of fruit and vegetable harvesting, handling and processing such as drying, canning, vacuum packing, minimal processing, refrigeration, freezing, irradiation and Ohmic heat processing. There is need to adopt automated modern methods and use of appropriate equipment to process indigenous fruits and vegetables so as to deliver quality and competitive products. The main post-harvest technologies being tested are locally available packaging materials and a charcoal cooler.
The consortium developed, mainstreamed and commercialised products (jam, juices, marmalade and dried products) and processes for extending the stable shelf life of AIFVs without degrading their nutritive value, taste and presentational characteristics. This will lead to increased commercialization of the AIFVs in the economy leading to enhanced nutrition, food and income security.
The project created a facility to leverage investment by private food processing firms and start-ups in the processing and marketing of these products.