Production Practices, Post-harvest Handling, and Application of some neglected Plants of Nutritional Importance in Traditional Farming Systems of Benishangul-Gumuz Region of Ethiopia
Background: In Ethiopia, particularly in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, there are numerous underutilized plants like figl (Raphanus sativus), girgir (Eruca sativa) and karkade (Hibiscus sabdariffa) which are cultivated and consumed only by the local communities. However, information on production practices, postharvest handling, and utilization trends of these plants is limited.
Objective: Assess the production, handling, and utilization pattern of figl, girgir, and karkade in the Benshangul-Gumuz region of Ethiopia.
Methodology: A cross-sectional household survey was used to collect primary data from 274 producers and 30 users using a semi-structured questionnaire. The data were analyzed using SPSS (Version 20.0) software package.
Results: The results showed that about 46% of farmers produce figl and girgir for food, medicine, and income generation. More than half of the farmers produce karkade for beverage and medicine. About 93% of the respondents showed that, edible parts of figl and girgir could attain commercial maturity within 15–35 days. However, calyces of karkade takes 121–150 days. Most of the farmers consume leaves and roots of figl and leaves of girgir as local salads while 84.31% use dried calyces of karkade for making a beverage. About 94% of the farmers allocated less than 0.25 hectares of land for the production of figl and girgir while 81% of them allocated this amount of land for the production of karkade. The majority (80%) of them are not getting extension services for the production of figl, girgir and karkade, and 53% lament that there is no market linkage for these crops.
Conclusions: Figl and girgir play significant roles in mitigating food insecurity because they reach commercial maturity within a short period and the possibility of cropping about five cycles throughout the year, particularly in marginal lands with agronomic practices accessible to farmers. Therefore, future research should incorporate packages of farming technology including propagating the crops at research centers, adaptation trial across different agro-ecology, improving of agronomic practices, variety registration and promotion.