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Preliminary nutritional analysis of marula (Sclerocarya birrea) fruits from two Kenyan provenances

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Sclerocarya birrea, the marula tree, is a medium-sized dioecious tree, indigenous to the miombo woodlands of Southern Africa and the Sudano-Sahelian range of West Africa. The local populations value the yellow, aromatic and fleshy fruits, which are eaten fresh or processed into juices and alcoholic beverages. The seed kernels are high in protein and fat and constitute an important emergency food. We have initiated a thorough nutritional analysis of S. birrea fruits and seeds (nuts). Initial results from bulked samples from the Kitui and Kibwezi provenances in Kenya show similar to higher values for vitamin C, protein, important nutritional minerals and carbohydrates than values published for fruits from Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. Our study suggests that the Kenyan material is of equal quality to the fruits marketed in Southern Africa. This finding has interesting implications for the future development of widespread commercialization by small-scale farmers. The study also gives an indication of the wide genetic variability of wild material from which superior provenances or individuals can be selected for further improvement of the species.

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    Jaenicke, H.; Thiong'o, M.K.




    sclerocarya birrea, fruit trees, nutrition, markets, food resources



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