Gogo O. Elisha, Opiyo M. Arnold, Christian Ulrichs, Susanne Huyskens-Keil
African leafy vegetables (ALVs) play a significant role in food security of smallholder farmers in rural and urban/peri-urban areas. In the human diet, they serve as vital sources of protein, fiber, minerals and vitamins as well as health promoting secondary plant compounds. In addition, ALVs create employment opportunities for women and youth in the society, hence providing a viable option to alleviating food insecurity. Consumption of ALVs in African countries, including Kenya has increased recently. However, while farmers still rely on the traditional methods of handling of these vegetables along the value chain, the magnitude of postharvest losses of ALVs in Kenya can reach up to 50%, being attributed to inadequate conditions during transport, storage and marketing. Inadequate postharvest handling and facilities for storage and transport, inappropriate processing methods, insufficient hygiene conditions in the markets and poor infrastructure aggravate these problems, causing massive losses along “the field to consumer” chain. Despite all these impressive qualities and importance of ALVs to the society, studies are still limited especially on postharvest handling and preservation techniques. Thus, the paper reviews various studies on common postharvest handling and postharvest treatment of traditional ALVs grown and consumed in Kenya. This paper can therefore provide a basis for future studies on appropriate postharvest treatments of ALVs with emphasis on contributing to food security concerns.
Postharvest handling, processing, preservation, indigenous African leafy vegetables