Advances in domestication of indigenous fruit trees in the West African Sahel uri icon

abstract

  • Fruit trees play an important nutritional role for livelihoods of rural people in the West African Sahel through provision of energy and nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and proteins. Research on the domestication of local fruit trees has started recently through projects concentrating on some of the most important indigenous species of dry West Africa, i.e. Adansonia digitata, Parkia biglobosa, Tamarindus indica, Vitellaria paradoxa and Ziziphus mauritiana. We present a status of finalised and ongoing domestication research with the aim of defining research gaps that would need to be covered by future research activities to obtain higher yields and better quality fruits. Germplasm collection in central West Africa has been intense compared to elsewhere in the species' distribution areas, but conservation status of the material is poor since it is only planted in few trials. Knowledge of genetic parameters, especially for fruit traits, is almost absent, but characterisation of genotypes is underway for some of the species. Mating systems and patterns are still unknown for many species. Efficient vegetative propagation based on simple techniques was shown to be possible for all species except P. biglobosa. In order to secure immediate as well as long term gains, we recommend combining clonal propagation of selected plus individuals with recombination and breeding of selected genotypes. We discuss whether local institutions in the Sahel have the financial capacity to carry out long term breeding programmes, and suggest that efforts should be made to find new ways of disseminating improved germplasm.

publication date

  • 2011
  • 2011