Native edible tree/shrub species available in Benin for enhancing food security of local populations

Native edible tree/shrub species (NETS) are very important resources for local people in Sub-Saharan Africa. This study aimed at documenting these resources in Benin and evaluating the traditional knowledge of local populations on NETS. A literature review was conducted through consultation of available documents in libraries, research centers and institutes, ministries and other services dealing with wild food crops in general and NETS in particular. Then, ethnobotanical surveys using a semi-structured questionnaire were conducted in two districts in the Sudanian zone and two districts in the Guineo Congolese zone. A sample of 160 informants (men and women) from the two major ethnic groups of each zone was considered. Descriptive statistics were used to present the values of different parameters measured and/or collected. Spearman’s correlation coefficient was used to compare the similarity of knowledge of diversity across environments; then the priority species were presented. In Benin, there are 121 NETS belonging to 90 genera and 38 families. From a nutrient composition point of view, most NETS have considerable amount of lipids (Blighia sapida, 20.1 g/100 g of DM), fiber (Borassus aethiopum, 18.6 g/100 g of DM) and carbohydrates (Dialium guineense, 79 g/100 g de DM). Similarities were observed between socio-cultural groups living in the same region. Fruits, leaves, bark and roots were the most exploited organs in both zones. Adansonia digitata and Irvingia gabonensis were the priority species for use in the Sudanian and Guineo-Congolese zones, respectively. These species were widely used for food but also medicinal and socio-cultural purposes. Extensive agriculture and the collection of species organs were the major threats to NETS. There is also little interest in growing these species among respondents. An awareness of the NETS’ threats is essential for sustainable management and their long-term availability to ensure the food and nutritional functions that they provide.
Date of publication: 
Region Focus: 
West Africa
RUFORUM Working document series
Licence conditions: 
Open Access
Access restriction: 
Web resource