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African Wild Harvest - COMPLETED

A community-based project in Kenya documenting the use of traditional food plants and promoting their sustainable use and management for diet diversification and improved nutrition.
Seeds of some traditional food plants grown by one of the rural communities in Kenya participating in the African Wild Harvest project. Photo: R. McBurney.


African Wild Harvest began in 2002 following feedback from relief and development organisations to the Survey of Economic Plants for Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (SEPASAL) indicating the need for reliable information on the role of wild food plants in nutrition in developing countries. The original aim of the project was the development of a database of micronutrient values of dryland species in collaboration with MRC Human Nutrition Research. This was revised and re-directed into an ethnobotanical project, after further assessment of user needs requirements with partners in Kenya who were already engaged in the SEPASAL project, and a new requirement by the funders for there to be a community focus to the project with outputs aimed at conserving local knowledge and directly benefiting the communities concerned, rather than a collation of nutrient values.

A pilot project was undertaken in collaboration with the Kenya Resource Centre for Indigenous Knowledge (KENRIK), National Museums of Kenya, from 2004-2007 to document indigenous knowledge relating to traditional food plants among two rural communities in western Kenya. The pilot involved the development of an Access and Benefit Sharing Agreement with the participating communities, and a set of minimum standards for recording indigenous knowledge on cultivation, harvesting, processing, use and seed management of 22 plant species identified by the communities as their most important traditional food plants.

Outputs from the pilot phase include manuals for use by the community groups and extension workers aimed at promoting the sustainable use and management of traditional food plants. Project outputs arising from fieldwork in Kenya remain to be completed - the delay resulting from full-time project staff at Kew and Kenya having left and no further funding from external sources.

Project partners and collaborators



BIDII Women's Group, Nyansa

Faculty of Agriculture, University of Nairobi, Kabete Campus, Nairobi

Maseno Botanic Garden, University of Maseno

National Museums of Kenya (Kenya Resource Centre for Indigenous Knowledge)

Rural Outreach Programme Nairobi and Western Kenya

TATRO Women's Group, Nyansa

Project funders


Nestlé UK Charitable Trust (Previously)

Project Department