tag cloud Nutrition Cost of diets Partnerships Sub-saharan Africa Local and wild food

Looking at wild foods to improve cost and nutrition of diets in Kenya


Research to identify novel approaches to improving nutrition and diets of women and children in Kenya has yielded new clues. In 2012, Bioversity International scientists with partners from Save the Children UK and the National Museums of Kenya researched how five wild, neglected and underutilized fruits and vegetables can reduce the cost and improve the nutrient content of modelled diets.


By adding the five selected locally available wild foods, especially Berchemia discolor fruits, the modelled diets were nutritionally richer and culturally acceptable. They were also less expensive and met recommended nutrient intakes for women and for children between 12-24 months, especially in the wet season.


While the five wild foods added to the modelled diets did not close the nutrient gap (the gap between actual nutrient intake and the recommended nutrient intake for a healthy diet) in both the dry and wet seasons and for all age groups, these findings show that it is possible to make a positive impact on the cost and quality of diets by adding accessible, nutritious local foods, found at low cost. The research model shows that the integration of the five wild foods in the diet can reduce the daily cost of a woman’s diet by $US 1.5 to 2 per day.


“Other approaches are still needed to meet nutrient requirements throughout the year, especially for infants between 6-11 months,” says Bruce Cogill, Programme Leader, Nutrition and Marketing Diversity, Bioversity International. “More research is required about the use of local foods to meet nutrient gaps and about how these foods can be produced, processed and marketed at scale.”


This project is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Additional support for this initiative is provided by the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health.


The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is also funding a Bioversity project in Kenya and Benin that is investigating the market potential of highly nutritious traditional foods, which tend to be abandoned due to socio-economic changes occurring with market globalization.



Photo: A Kenyan mother with her daughter - Credit: Bioversity International/S. Mann