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Commercializing nutritious foods from native Kenyan trees

food securityKenyan athletes returning home from their characteristic winning performances are usually welcomed with a gourdfull of mursik—a specially fermented milk preserved with the ash of the indigenous tree species Senna didymobotrya (syn. Cassia didymobotrya), known locally as Itet.

However, with the pressures of climate change and human activities, important indigenous tree species such as Itet face the risk of decimation. These trees and related herbal shrubs have great cultural importance, yet are neither domesticated nor commercialised.

At the World Congress on Agroforestry, Anja M. Oussoren of AgriPRO, Ivory Consult Ltd will explain how her company is working with partners to conserve and commercialise the healthy foods derived from indigenous trees in Kenya.

The company works together with ethnobotanists, horticultural scientists, food, beverage and nutraceutical companies, food scientists, lawyers and policy makers, in the identification and prioritization of indigenous trees for conservation, propagation, regeneration and commercialization. The company is using an innovative technique known as Indigenous Trees Incubators (ITIs) in this effort.

So far, says Oussoren, extensive conversations and in some cases draft memorandums of understanding are in place with Kenyan and international gene banks, national agricultural and forestry research centres, ministries of agriculture and environment, county decision makers, community representatives, research universities, food and beverage companies, and research foundations.

By Isaiah Esipisu

Edited by D. Ouya

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