6 February 2013

Rwanda: IRST Discovers Edible Wild Plants

A team of four scientists have carried out research on wild edible plants and discovered over 160 species regrouped in 58 families.

The findings were revealed on Monday at the Institute of Scientific and Technological Research (IRST) in a 362-page book titled, "Nutritional Potentials of Wild Edible Plants of Rwanda."

The authors include Dr Jean Baptiste Nduwayezu, the director-general of IRST, Vedaste Minani the institute researcher and a batomist, Emmanuel Munyaneza, a researcher and environmentalist, and Luffo Christopher K. a Tanzanian botanist expert, who previously worked with the institute.

"The research was done to identify and promote wild edible plants that can contribute to the empowerment of the nutritional value in Rwanda," Nduwayezu, who led the team, said at the launch.

He said the research will help fight against malnutrition, especially among children and women.

"There is a problem of poor feeding in Rwanda. Natural foods are richer in Vitamins than modern ones, we wanted to identify nutritional plants so that Rwandans and other countries would benefit from it and start consuming the wild species," he said.

The book was written in English but authors say they will look for Kinyarwanda translation of what are more significant so that Rwandans can easily identify the edible plants.

Welcome boost

The Minister of Education, Dr Vencent Biruta, commended the team, saying the research will boost the fight against malnutrition and poverty.

He encouraged academicians and institutions to carry out more researches to contribute to the socio-economic development of the country.

Munyaneza said the wild edible plants can be domesticated and that efforts are ongoing to help Rwandans with the domestication.

Universities, institutions and policymakers were urged to work together to help the population understand the significance of the research finding.

Some wild edible plants are bitter, but the researchers say Rwandans would understand that it is more important to know how to use them.

The researchers also say the wild edible plants will cause no harm to the lives of people as empirical research was done on each and every kind of plant.

Minani said the research finding would enhance livelihood.

"We want diverse and well-balanced diet. We don't want to encourage people to avoid some plants," Minani said.

During the launch, the researchers were urged not to stop at publishing the findings, but also sensitise people on how to use the edible wild plants.

"For this book to be important, it should be published in other languages, especially Kinyarwanda, and should be available in various libraries. Rwandans also need to get more explanations about wild edible plants," said Theophile Ntwali, a 4th year Crop Science student at the National University of Rwanda.

Researchers say almost all wild plants are edible. Some plants are consumable through their leaves or roots, and others the shoot and fruits.

The research was done in ecological zones of Rwanda Nyungwe and Akagera parks, in Bugesera district.

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