Focus on Underutilized fruits, farmers urged- Dr. Lusike Wasilwa

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Dr. Lusike wasike, Director crops systems at Kenya Agricultural& livestock Research Organization(Kalro), in recent conference spoke on the underutilized fruits for improved nutrition and health. The conference was held at the Four Points by Sheraton, hurlingham.

‘With the hunger situation in Kenya due to factors such as food and nutrition security, high Population growth, climatic factors among other factors, there is need to focus on underutilized fruits such as guavas, gooseberries and the jack fruit’. Says Dr. lusike

 There is need to bio-diversify and educate farmers on fruit farming, the market and their value nutrition wise.

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 Guavas that have grafted seeds take 2-2.5 years to mature, Ungrafted seeds take 4 years to mature.

The potential yield is 40kgs per tree.

‘Guavas have initially been thought as fruits to be fed on by birds or young boys but they do offer a lot of health benefits as they are rich in antioxidants, vitamin C, potassium and fiber.’ Says Dr. Lusike

Guavas also help in lowering blood sugar levels, help improve immunity and help in the digestive system. Guava are also used to make guava juice.

Gooseberry on the other hand can be used as a cake flavour and its juice used to cook some foods besides being liked by nutrition conscious consumers due to it benefits such as improving of appetite, preventing heart diseases, helping in digestion and controlling diabetes among others

Jack fruits have vitamins & minerals, they are rich in proteins and are good for health.

Their value addition is derived from jam, wine, antibiotics and wine.

 Goose berry is used as cake flavours and its juice is used in cooking some foods.  They also help in increasing appetite, prevent heart related diseases, help in digestion and control diabetes.

Dr. Lusike insisted there is need to stop the perception of the fruits being of no importance hence no need to focus on them. Farmers from various counties have received seedlings and projects have been initiated to concentrated on the growth of the underutilized fruits.

The African Indigenous Vegetables from income generation to health and nutrition conference realized the potential African countries had in .investing more on such especially in Kenya and Zambia . The conference was organized by Rutgers , The State University of New Jersey.

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