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Farmer picking fruit from a fruit tree

Case Study: Climate, Food Security & Nutrition

Fruit Trees in East African for Nutrition and Resilience

Farming First Farming First

Resource-poor communities in Kenya and Uganda often suffer from malnutrition and stunting. However, Eastern Africa is home to a range of nutrient-dense fruit trees such as pawpaw, mango, mulberry, loquat, water berry, custard apple, guava, white sapote, lemon, orange, chocolate berry, passion fruit and desert date.

These food trees have huge potential as a sustainable food product given they provide a rich nutrient source that already exists within local ecosystems. Additionally, they have been traditionally used to complement and diversify staple diets, which helps prevent nutrient deficiencies and contributes to better health.

In these regions, such a diversity of trees means there is always one flourishing and providing fruits at some point during the year. ICRAF and FTA partners help devise the best fruit trees for farmers to grow, to guarantee a diverse and uninterrupted harvest of native fruits, leaves, oils or nuts, especially during the seasons when farmers aren’t harvesting crops. Additionally, trees enhance the resilience of farming to climate variability: they have deep roots that are more tolerant to drought than ordinary crops.

Fruit tree farms are important for nutrition because they provide easily accessible food that is rich in vitamins and minerals such as iron, zinc, vitamin A, calcium and other micronutrients required by the body for proper growth and development. ICRAF and partners support farmers to inform them about the nutritional value of diverse food sources and support them to integrate trees into mixed-crop farming systems. This also provides opportunities for income-generating activities during traditional periods of crop gestation for smallholder farming communities.

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