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Vegetable breeding in Africa: constraints, complexity and contributions toward achieving food and nutritional security

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Afari-Sefa, V., Tenkouano, A., Ojiewo, C.O., Keatinge, J.D.H., Hughes, J.d’A. FOOD SECURITY , 4(1):115-127 , 2012.

Many Africans are presently confronted with nutritional insecurity as their diets are often deficient in essential vitamins and minerals owing to lack of sufficient consumption of fruit and vegetables. This results from problems of availability, affordability and lack of knowledge. There has been a substantive, long-term underinvestment in research and development of the horticultural sector in Africa with particular reference to those indigenous crops which are naturally high in nutritious vitamins and minerals. Lack of breeding effort, ineffective seed supply systems and an inadequate information, regulatory and policy framework have all contributed to the widespread occurrence of malnutrition on the continent. However, public sector research, development and policy amelioration efforts supported by a nascent private seed supply sector are now showing progress. Many new, improved, nutrient-dense indigenous and standard vegetable varieties are being released for which smallholder farmers are finding growing markets in both rural and urban settings. If such developments continue favourably for the next decade, it is expected that progress towards a reduction in poverty and malnutrition in Africa will be marked.