Diversity of indigenous fruit trees and their role in rural livelihoods in marginal areas of Zimbabwe: case of Chirumanzu, Chivi and Mberengwa districts
Ethno-botanical surveys were conducted in Chirumhanzu, Chivi and Mberengwa districts, in April and November 2021, to gather information on the diversity and the role played by IFTs in the socio-economy of inhabitants of these districts. A structured and semi-structured questionnaire were used to gather data from 172 participants identified from 57 villages. The frequency index of each IFT species was calculated and responses from the participants were analyzed. Thirty-seven (37) IFT species from 21 different Genera were identified. Strychnos spinosa, Azanza garckeana and Sclerocarya birrea were the most mentioned indigenous fruit tree species. Approximately 97% of the respondents viewed indigenous fruits as important sources of food and nutrition. Eighty-nine percent considered IFTs as a source of medicine. 95.3% agreed that IFTs had the potential to generate revenue through commerce. 64% of the respondents had received knowledge on domestication and conservation of IFT species mainly from extension officers. However, negative attitudes and lack of quality germplasm hindered their domestication and inclusion of IFTs into their cropping systems. The study showed that more efforts are needed in the propagation, awareness and policy intervention to improve the status of IFTs.
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A Participatory Rural Approach was adopted for this study and a snowballing sampling technique was used to identify individuals with knowledge of IFTs to fill the questionnaires (Mashile et al., 2019). Questionnaires were administered with the help of local enumerators mostly extension officers. Face to face interviews were used to assist participants who could not read or write. A total of 172 participants from 57 villages were interviewed