Indigenous Trees Incubators in Agro-Ecological Zones in Kenya for the Commercialization of Nutritional Foods
Indigenous Trees Incubators in Agro-Ecological Zones in Kenya for the Commercialization of Nutritional Foodswca2014-2059 Anja M. Oussoren 1,* 1AgriPRO, Ivory Consult Ltd., Nairobi, Kenya
The genetic diversity and traditional knowledge of indigenous trees is disappearing rapidly in Kenya. Many of these trees provide essential nutrients through their fruits, leaves, bark, and/or roots, able to prevent human diseases. To commercialize nutritional foods from indigenous trees, a long term, iterative, participatory and multi-disciplinary innovation strategy has been designed. The strategy involves the identification and prioritization of indigenous trees for their conservation, propagation, regeneration and commercialization. It utilizes a systems approach that depends on the fields of ethnobotany, horticultural science, agroforestry, rural sociology, food science, nutrition, law, and business development. This innovation is called Indigenous Trees Incubators (ITIs).
ITIs will be established in each of the agro-ecological zones in Kenya. Each ITI will serve as the research base for 1) participatory ethnobotanical surveys, 2) conservation of germplasm, 3) prioritization of cultivars with desirable traits, 4) development of propagation protocols, 5) integration of indigenous food trees into the farming and non-farming landscapes and national policies, 6) development and commercialization of nutritional food products, and 7) benefits sharing.
The force behind ITI’s is a private company in Kenya, concerned with the conservation and commercialization of healthy foods derived from indigenous trees. This private company serves as the hub, pulling together ethnobotanists, horticultural scientists, food, beverage and nutraceutical companies, food scientists, lawyers and policy makers. Extensive conversations and, in some cases, draft MoUs, 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, national and international research universities, national and international food and beverage companies, and research foundations.
This paper describes the 7-point ITI strategy in detail, providing an innovative pathway whereby the public and private sectors can pull their resources together to integrate indigenous trees into national and international applied science programs and economies.