In East Africa we collected stories on an exciting range of plants most of which were either staple foods or medicinal plants. Some of the people we interviewed became very good friends through our discussions and work with them, while others we met at the market or on public transport. Below is a small sample of the stories – please have a look at our vimeo, soundcloud, and flickr pages for more stories (please note that putting stories online and linking between the various sites we are using is an ongoing process)
Herbert works as the Animal Attendant at Kira Farm Rural Training Centre, Uganda. He looks after a few cows, a small herd of goats and a flock of chickens.
Herberts answer to our question was one of the most important staple foods in the world – beans. He was not the only one who mentioned beans and you can watch the video below to hear Herbert, and two other Ugandans talking about why beans are important to them. You can also click here to download 2 A1 sized pdf posters about beans featuring Herbert.
Fasila lives in Mabira forest, Uganda. The forest is so important to her that she had great difficulty singling out one plant that was the most important. She mentioned plants used as food, medicine, building materials, and even a plant that can be used as an abortifacient. She also told us about the fight to save 1/3 of Mabira forest from development into Sugar cane plantations.
Moses works at Hlekweni, a rural training centre in Matabeleland, Zimbabwe.
Moses told us about the Moringa tree (Moringa oleifera). There is a long list of conditions that people treat with Moringa which is why is also known as the miracle tree in some parts of the world. The leaves and seed pods can be eaten, and are a significant source of vitamin B6, vitamin C, provitamin A as beta-carotene, magnesium and protein.
As poverty due to poor nutrition is often correlated with low rainfall this tree is being promoted as part of the fight against poverty by many organisations such as Trees for Life. A number of places we visited were cultivating Moringa as you can see in our photos. Hlekweni training centre has used it in the past as part of a nutrition supplement for malnourished children in rural areas and Moses was very passionate about its potential. You can hear his story below.