Fruits supply vital vitamins and minerals. A study conducted in Machakos County in Kenya shows that planting a carefully selected portfolio of easily grown fruit species will ensure you have fresh fruit throughout the year.
“We found that existing fruit diversity can be arranged in ‘fruit tree portfolios’ to be planted on each farm for a year-round supply of fresh fruits,” says Ms Katja Kehlenbeck, of the Tree Diversity, Domestication, and Delivery Science Domain at the Nairobi-based World Agroforestry Centre.
A combination of 13 species —
- water berry,
- custard apple,
- white sapote,
- chocolate berry,
- passion fruits, and
- desert date — will provide fresh fruits throughout the year.
For small farms, growing pawpaws, oranges, lemons, and the wild fruit desert date could provide a year-round supply of vitamin C.
A farmer with oranges and tangerines, for instance, has ripe fruits from May to August. Mangoes are available between December and March with pawpaws being on-season throughout the year.
Chocolate berry (black plum), also known as Kimuu, in Kamba ripens between April-June, which is considered the dry season in the area.
“Based on these results, indigenous wild fruit species need to be promoted for cultivation, and good planting materials – seeds and seedlings – made available to farmers,” says Ms Kehlenbeck.
Researchers plan to apply the study findings to other areas to help improve nutrition and combat hidden hunger. The European Union and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) funded the study.