Communities in western Kenya have utilized several species of African Leafy Vegetables for food and valued them for their taste, nutritional qualities and medicinal properties. With increasing demand for these vegetables, there is a dire need for a formal reliable source of quality seed and need to study and develop seed support systems in communities in western Kenya.
The objectives of the study were: determine the current seed support systems; collect, evaluate and multiply germplasm; establish seed support systems; determine effect of seed treatments on seedling emergency of priority African Leafy Vegetables in three communities in western Kenya. A survey was conducted by administering structured questionnaires to 30, 20 and 30 households in the Luhya, Luo and Kisii communities, respectively between Jan 2002 and March 2003.
Germplasm collection, evaluation and multiplication of the priority African Leafy Vegetables was effected. Multiplied germplasm was used to establish a seed support system at Maseno University botanic garden and with 70 farmers in the three communities. Seed treatments for spiderplant, nightshades and jute mallow was conducted between June and August 2004. Treatments included T1
=No treatment or Control, T2
=Dipped seed in boiling water for 10 seconds, T3
=Soaked seeds in water for 24 hrs and T4
= Soak seed in 95% acetone for 30 minutes.
Current seed support systems for African Leafy Vegetables are informal and constitute production from farmers’ own fields or from the village markets. Seven African leafy vegetable species were selected from 42 accessions collected based on seed weight, germination percentage and seed moisture content and these included
, Crotalaria brevidens
, Crotalaria ochroleuca
, Solanum scabrum
, Vigna unguiculata
, Amaranthus blitum
and Corchorus olitorius
. Seed yields of the above species ranged from 1036-1320 kg/ha with 1000 seed weight of 1.1 to 100g.
A total of 70 contact farmers in 6 districts of western Kenya were provided with seed and technical information on production and processing of seed, 13% of whom had started producing quality seed for their use or sale. A seed support system was set up at Maseno University Botanic garden to avail seed of the seven African Leafy Vegetables to farmers in the region and beyond. Seed treatments had a significant effect on the seedling emergence of spiderplant and African nightshade but not on jute mallow. It is recommended that Agronomic, processing and utilization packages be developed for the identified species.