By Mary Obaebor
A professor of plant breeding and genetics, Professor Cyril Nwangburuka, has called for the rescue of the African indigenous vegetable crops in view of their nutritional and medicinal values.
He made the call while delivering the 40th Babcock University inaugural lecture.
In his paper: Genetics, Improvement of African Indigenous Crops (AIVCs): A panacea to Food Security, Sustainable Health and Poverty Alleviation in Nigeria, Nwangburuka called on government and the private sector to intensify efforts through research to prevent further genetic erosion and extinction of the AIVCs.
He said institutions such as the National Centre for Genetic Resources should be well funded being a national centre for collection and preservation of genetic resources.
He expressed concern over the abandonment of indigenous vegetable crops such as Talinum traingulare (water leaf), Vernonia amygdalina (bitter leaf), solanum anguivi (Anara), piper guinensis (Uziza) for the exotic improved vegetable crop varieties such as kale, celery, cabbage, cucumber, lettuce.
He said it was regrettable that most of the indigenous vegetable crops are hardly found on the shelves of vegetable sellers and when they are available, they are considered inferior and oftentimes command less cash value. This, according to him, discourages the few sellers of the AIVCs and making them unpopular.
In view of this, Nwangburuka said there was need to enhance AIVCs’ innate potentials via crop improvement, to achieve food security, sustainable health and poverty eradication.
According to him, the AIVCs were in a position to provide the huge underutilised natural food resources, which could conveniently complement the already existing food system if molecular and morphological tools are available for their genetic improvement.
He added that the AIVCs remained the panacea for poverty alleviation in Nigeria if their huge diversities were urgently harnessed.
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