Traditional knowledge of wild edible fruits in southern Africa: A comparative use patterns in Namibia and Zimbabwe

A large proportion of resource poor rural households in southern African communal areas are dependent on wild edible fruits to meet part of their daily nutritional needs. For many people and ethnic groups, the use of wild edible fruits is a source of cultural identity, reflecting a deep and important body of knowledge about the environment, survival, harvesting, preservation and other forms of management. This study was aimed at documenting the role of wild edible fruits in the livelihoods of people in Namibia and Zimbabwe. Sixty five and 83 randomly selected participants were interviewed in Namibia and Zimbabwe respectively, between October 2011 and January 2013. Sixty fruit plants were recorded in both countries. Higher species numbers (50) were recorded in Zimbabwe compared to 19 species in Namibia. Apart from fruit production, five other major use categories were identified in this study, which included herbal medicines, timber, firewood, fruit juice and plant products sold to generate income. It is vital that more research is conducted on potentially important wild edible fruit plants as millions of people throughout the world make extensive use of this category of plant resources to fulfill their livelihood needs.

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