New article: Vegetables to Combat the Hidden Hunger in Africa

ASC senior researcher Wijnand Klaver contributed to an article in Chronica Horticulturae, coinciding with the XXIX International Horticultural Congress in Brisbane ( While a healthy diet is based on a diversity of foods, in Africa many people rely on monotonous diets based mainly on grains, roots and tubers with few vegetables & fruits and hardly any animal-source foods. As a consequence, in tropical Africa more people suffer from ‘hidden hunger’ than from overt starvation, because their diet lacks micronutrients such as iron, zinc, vitamin A, iodine, and folate. This ‘hidden hunger’ is a main cause of health problems, high mortality and low economic productivity. Dietary diversification is one of the key strategies to combat this ‘hidden hunger’ and vegetables are the most affordable and accessible source of micronutrients. Nutritional analysis shows that when the food composition figures are expressed per 100g dry matter, vegetables appear as a particularly rich source of protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals.

Nutritional value of vegetables

Many policy makers ignore the nutritional and economic value of vegetables. This article proposes for tropical Africa a doubling of the present intake of about 100 g of vegetables to 200 g as a long-term realistic target. It sketches the scope of increasing vegetable production for the domestic African markets both from commercial vegetable production (such as peri-urban and ‘truck’ farming) and from production for personal use in fields and home gardens (e.g. through intercropping). It focuses on increasing the production and consumption of a number of commonly consumed leafy and non-leafy vegetables; some indigenous and some “exotic” (introduced in recent times from other continents).
Compared to tropical Asia, the vegetable sector in Africa is lagging behind as a result of weak research, breeding, training and extension services, an insufficient seed distribution network and low purchasing power. (Photo: Kilombero market, Arusha, Tanzania. Photographer: Herman de Putter.)

Read the full text of the article.

Chronica Horticulturae, Volume 54, issue 1, 2014.
International Society for Horticultural Science:

Author(s) / editor(s)

Grubben, Klaver, Nono-Womdim, Everaarts, Fondio et al.

About the author(s) / editor(s)

Dr. Gerard Grubben, Wageningen University and Research Centre:
Wijnand Klaver MSc, African Studies Centre:
Dr. Rémi Nono-Womdim, FAO, Plant Production and Protection Division:
Dr. Arij Everaarts, Wageningen University and Research Centre:
Dr. Lassina Fondio, CNRA/Food Crops Research Station Ivory Coast:
Jan Arie Nugteren MSc, East-West Seed Company:
Marina Corrado MSc, freelance nutritionist/consultant: