Trees that are a source of edible fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts and oils have traditionally been used to complement and diversify staple-based diets. When integrated into agroforestry systems, they can contribute substantially to food and nutrition security for smallholders – possibly for generations.
In East Africa, the Food Trees project, funded by the European Union, IFAD and GIZ, co-developed tailored ‘food tree portfolios’ with farmers to address the challenges of seasonal food availability and micronutrient deficiencies – particularly vitamins A and C, iron and folate. The portfolios combine locally available and culturally acceptable food tree species that can be harvested consecutively to provide year-round nutritious foods.
Researchers identified specific food-insecure periods and nutrient gaps in diets through surveys and discussions with farmers. The portfolio approach can be adapted to different locations with diverse agro-ecological conditions, as well as to variations in species’ suitability, fruit-tree phenology and farmers’ preferences.
“Using location-specific data allowed us to not only capture the socioecological dynamics of smallholders’ food production diversity, but also to use individual food consumption data to better understand and fill both harvest and nutrient gaps”
Stepha McMullin, Scientist
- Developing fruit tree portfolios that link agriculture more effectively with nutrition and health: a new approach for providing year-round micronutrients to smallholder farmers
- Combining fruit trees and food crops for year-round harvest and better nutrition
- Combining Fruit trees and Food crops for year-round harvest and better Nutrition
- Kuunganisha upanzi wa miti ya matunda na vyakula vingine ili kupata mavuno na lishe bora
See our series of nutritious food portfolios.
Explore the world of forest foods in our illustrated feature.