Indigenous fruits business and conservation of edible indigenous fruit trees in Songea District, Tanzania

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Dr. Michael J. Haule

Indigenous fruits (IFs) areamong the best nutritional food materials in the world. Such fruits, available in Tanzania, include Uapaca kirkiana (Masuku), Parinari curatelifolia (Mbula), Strychnos cocculoides (Madonga), Tamarindus indica (Ukwaju) and many others. Despite their role in ensuring rural livelihood and enhancement of household income, Indigenous fruit trees (IFTs) are at the risk of vanishing due to anthropogenic factors that culminate into deforestation. The paper investigates whether the actors in IFs sector, i.e. those dealing with collecting, consuming, processing and selling are actually engaged in ensuring sustainability of IFs availability in the area. In case they do or they do not; then explaining why. The theory is that of “let the beneficiaries conserve resources for their own survival and development”. A qualitative approach was adopted whereby data were collected through in-depth interviews and key informant interviews using Interview guides. Five(5) localities were selected for the study in which 5respondents attended in-depth interviews and remaining 3 attended key informant interviews. Selection of respondents was purposeful so as to obtain maximum variation of responses. Probe questions were asked for detailed information. The data were processed into themes coded and similar information was linked for interpretation and analysis. The paper observes lack of IFs actors’ engagement in conservation activities; caused by the lack of awareness on the need to conserve IFTs, coupled with absence of any planned mechanisms for forest conservation. The IFs actors appreciated the role of IFs in terms of improving livelihoods and household incomes while conversely conceding that nothing was done to conserve the natural forest in general, IFTs in particular. The number of IFs and quantities of IFs produced in a year declined tremendously causing concerns on their future availability. Nobody was thinking of reversing the trend as all the IFs were considered to be just “a gift of nature.”Lack of awareness and absence of programmes to educate local people on the need to conserve, and more important how to conserve limited potential efforts was vividly observed. The paper proposes on concerted efforts for in situ conservation of IFs. Domestication and propagation of IFs are complex forestry management procedures and may take much longer time for the people of the area characterized by low levels of education and affected by poverty to be adopted.

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   Vol. 07, Issue 03, March 2017



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