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Wild and semi-wild food plants in Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom, Uganda: cultural significance, local perceptions and social implications of their consumption

Author(s): Jacob Godfrey AGEA | Clement Akais OKIA | Joseph OBUA | John HALL | Zewge TEKLEHAIMANOT

Journal: International Journal of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants
ISSN 2249-4340

Volume: 1;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 137;
Date: 2011;
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Keywords: Semi-cultivated food plants | semi-wild food plants | wild food plants | Bunyoro | Uganda

This paper presents the cultural significances, local perceptions and social implications of consumption of wild and semi-wild food plants (WSWFPs) in the Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom. Data was collected using household questionnaire survey and focus group discussions. It was apparent that the bulk of WSWFPs had moderate (CFSI 20–99) to very high (CFSI ≥ 300) cultural food significance indices. The most outstanding being Bidens pilosa (410.1), Capsicum frutescens (377.0) and Amaranthus spinosus (366.0). Most people perceived WSWFPs as medicinal, nutritious, sources of income; emergency and supplementary foods. Other people, however, perceived some WSWFPs as weedy and problematic in the gardens; toxic and/or fatal if adequate care is not taken during their preparation before consumption. Most people noted that consumption of WSWFPs is often considered as a source of shame and a sign of poverty especially by the elites. Some alleged their consumption is a sign of uncivilized and backwardness associated with loss of respect and dignity in the society. Others regarded WSWFPs as food for the lazy, elderly or handicapped persons. Investigation of the food-medicinal properties of documented WSWFPs that had high food-medicinal role indices (FMRI) is needed. In addition, those plants that had high taste score appreciation indices (TSAI) should be investigated for their nutritional attributes. There is a need for investigation of anti-nutrient factors or toxic compounds that could be present in some of the documented WSWFPs. So far in Uganda, little attempt has been made in this direction. Therefore, attempts to research in this aspect of WSWFPs would be quite rewarding. There is also a need for massive awareness campaigns about the nutritional and or food-medicinal properties of WSWFPs as a measure to reduce the negative perception towards their consumption.
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