Using Edible Tubers, Root and Bulbs as Drivers of Community Based Natural Resource Management in Zambia
The forests offer various ecosystem services which the local communities depend on such as construction raw materials, medicine and indigenous food crops. Despite increasing knowledge on forest foods in southern Africa, little is known on edible tubers, roots and bulbs. Tubers, roots and bulbs such as Dioscorea hittifolia (busala), Rhychosa (mukoyo), Satyrium atherstonei (chikanda) and Plectranthus esculentus (imyumbu) have been used as major traditional wild food crop from ancient times in Zambia. This study was carried out in the central part of Zambia to determine the contribution of these edible tubers, roots and bulbs to community well-being and conservation of biodiversity in both forest and wetland areas. A total of 150 local community members were involved in interviews using semi-structured questionnaires and three focus group discussions. The study revealed that edible tubers and bulbs have the potential to contribute economically to the wellbeing of the local communities. Additionally, the study showed that these tubers and bulbs have the potential to be used as a tool for diversity conservation. Although the contribution of the tubers and bulbs is not at full potential, with public private partnership, they have the potential to contribute to both income generation and conservation of biodiversity especially if their value chains are developed and other management prescriptions are employed. Local communities can only realise enough benefits if issues of domestication, propagation, packaging and marketing are addressed. With the full potential of the edible tubers and bulbs, the attention on forest resource exploitation especially vices such as charcoal manufacturing and clearing of forest areas which are the major factors fostering deforestation and forest degradation will be diverted. Tubers and bulbs are important to the communities as they are a source of income; while to the ecosystem, tubers and bulbs save other forest components such as trees by reducing pressure from unsustainable harvest.
Edible Tubers and Bulbs, Non-Wood Forest Products, Food Security, Biodiversity Conservation
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