Nutritional potential of underutilized edible plant species in coffee agroforestry systems of Yayu, southwestern Ethiopia

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Springer Nature
Ethiopia is confronted with the paradox of hosting hundreds of edible plants and having high food and nutritional insecurity. Meals are mainly made up of staples and often lack of protein and micronutrients. Therefore, a large section of the population, particularly children and women, are malnourished. We hypothesize that wild edible plant species can contribute to fulfil the micronutrient demands of local people. Hence, we assessed the nutritional potential of underutilized edible plant species growing in understories of coffee agroforestry systems of southwestern Ethiopia. An ethnobotanical household survey (n = 300) documented the edible existing plants; and a promising subset of them (n = 12) was analysed for nutrient and antinutritional factor content in the lab. All 12 species, except fruits, have higher calcium, iron and zinc contents compared to regularly cultivated crops. Vitamin C was high in Syzygium guineense (330.72 mg/100 g edible parts or EP) and Rubus apetalus (294.19 mg/100 g). Beta-carotene ranged from 9.2 to 75 µg retinol activity equivalent (RAE) /100 g 25 among all species, but was exceptionally high in Rubus apetalus (161.7 µg RAE/100 g). Concerning the antinutritional factors, phytate content varied from 31.06 to 601.65 µg/100 g, being lower in Dioscorea prehensilis (31.06 µg/100 g) and D. alata (90.17 µg/100 g) compared to Carissa spinarum (601.65 µg/100 g) and Solanum nigrum (536.48 µg/100 g). Thus, we conclude that the assessed underutilized species are potential sources of dietary nutrients locally needed, and are notable Amaranthus graecizans, Portulaca oleracea and Dioscorea cayenensis as providers of Ca, Fe and Zn, and the fruit Rubus apetalus of provitamin A.
Acknowledgements: We are greatly indebted to Dr. Omarsherif Jemal., Mr. Matewos Bekele, Mr. Dessie Olana for their cooperation during data collection. We thank Dr. Julian P. Wald for his support during the laboratory analysis. We thank also the ECFF (Environment and Coffee Forest Forum) and the Agricultural offices of Yayu and the surrounding Woreda—their support and facilitation were indispensable for realization of the field work. We also extend our sincere thanks to Ms. Margaret Jend for editing this manuscript. © The Author(s) 2020. This article is published with open access at and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License - . The Version of Scholarly Record of this Article is published in Agroforestry Systems, 2021, available online at: . Keywords: diet diversity; underutilized food plants; nutritional potential; antinutritional factors; Africa; Ethiopia.
Aragaw, H.S., Nohr, D. & Callo-Concha, D. (2021). Nutritional potential of underutilized edible plant species in coffee agroforestry systems of Yayu, southwestern Ethiopia. Agroforestry Systems, 95, 1047–1059 (2021).