In 2017, WorldVeg analyzed nutritional traits of 55 traditional vegetable species commonly consumed by the Ami, a Taiwan aboriginal group, before the current/modern food system became dominant over the past 50 years. The Ami traditionally collected edible plants from the wild in eastern Taiwan, a region with diverse plant communities. Phytonutrient values of Ami traditional vegetables were compared with the phytonutrient contents previously measured by our laboratory for 200 species of tropical Asian and African traditional vegetables, and 30 commonly consumed vegetables in Taiwan. The vegetable crops commonly consumed in Taiwan today tend to have less dry matter and high sugar content, reflecting consumer taste preferences. These crops are also lower in nutrients such as protein, beta-carotene, vitamin C, minerals, and antioxidants—implying that there may be fewer nutrients available from vegetables grown in modern food systems.
With accurate data records and improved data management skills, genebank curators in Africa can more easily share information about traditional vegetables and get a better picture of the overall global status of these important crops.
Visitors to the WorldVeg office in Benin find vegetable crops thriving in the Demonstration Garden.
Nutritious and easy to grow, amaranth is a healthy and profitable crop for small-scale farmers.
Focusing on African nightshade, amaranth, spider plant and Ethiopian kale, the HORTINLEA project aims to boost the potential of traditional African vegetables to improve nutrition and increase farmer incomes. A group of young researchers is looking into ways to share the knowledge and know-how collected by the project with farmers, other researchers, and policymakers.
A lack of diversity in the diet is a major cause of malnutrition in rural farming communities in Tanzania. Traditional vegetables can bridge the nutritional gap.