KENYA – Amagoro village in Busia County has ventured into Cowpea, locally known as ‘Kunde’, production due to its early maturity and subsequent high nutritive value.

These nutrient-packed leaves, whose maturity rate takes between 3-5 weeks are highly recommended to hypertension and diabetic patients for their high iron levels.

“Cowpeas contain the amino acid tryptophan, which helps form melatonin in the body, which may help improve sleep patterns and reduce insomnia,” said Marangach, the Sub County Education Director, Teso North Sub County.

Cowpeas thrive in areas with dry conditions, growing well in soils with up to 85% sand. This makes them particularly Ideal for Teso’s arid and semi-arid conditions.

According to Elizabeth Marangach, a kitchen gardener at Amagoro, ‘Kunde’ is a traditional African vegetable whose preparation is entrenched in the cultures of native African communities. 

In the Teso North subcounty, the low and erratic rainfall and lack of irrigation facilities limit the production of vegetables on a large scale. Still, exotic vegetables are grown in kitchen gardens, whereas nutrient-rich indigenous vegetables are rarely produced or consumed.

“Production of indigenous vegetables has enhanced the livelihoods of many farmers through income generation, besides consumption of the same, enhancing their nutritional status,” noted Dr. Amos Wafula a nutritionist at Kocholia Sub-county Hospital.

In addition, with indigenous vegetables having a ready market in Malaba, Busia, and adjacent towns like Bungoma and beyond, the vegetable remains useful in the general development of children.

Meanwhile, in another research published by The Star, indigenous vegetable farming is an effective key to changing rural economies.

According to the research, out of the about 200 indigenous plant species used as leafy vegetables in Kenya, only a few have been fully domesticated. 

Diverse traditional vegetables are part of Kenyan cuisine and culture and could economically empower local communities.

In this regard, NGOs have teamed up to promote the production of indigenous vegetables as an alternative source of income for rural households in western Kenya.

The Rural Outreach Africa, SNV Netherlands, and World Vegetable Centre are implementing the Veggies for Planet and People Projects in Kakamega, Kisumu, and Vihiga counties.

Rural Outreach Africa regional coordinator Doreen Anjawa said there are efforts to try to ensure food and nutrition security by intensifying production and introducing high-yielding, stress-tolerant crop varieties.

“Being native to the African continent, indigenous vegetables have been selected over many generations against various stressors in tropical environments, especially drought,” she said. 

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