Lead Organization:

Asian Vegetable Research and Development Center

Partner Organizations:

World Vegetable Center (WorldVeg), Institute of Environment and Agricultural Research (INERA), local NGO VARENA ASSO, and local seed enterprises and cooperatives


Burkina Faso




Healthy diet guidelines specify that adults should consume 300 grams of vegetables daily (Willett et al., 2020) to reduce the risk of non-communicable diseases (Afshin et al., 2019). In Burkina Faso, average adult vegetable consumption is among the lowest in West Africa at 27 grams per day. Of women of reproductive age, 52.2 percent are affected by anemia, and one in five children under five years are stunted (Global Nutrition Report, 2022). 

African vegetables (AVs) are highly nutritious and a promising option to increase food systems resilience to climatic and economic shocks. AVs include leafy vegetables such as jute mallow, African nightshade, and amaranth as well as African eggplant, roselle, and okra. These include species indigenous to Africa as well as those introduced long ago that  have become naturalized, resulting in local landraces (Maundu et al., 2009; van Zonneveld et al., 2021). 

AVs are a relatively affordable source of essential micronutrients (Asase et al., 2018) but require supply- and demand-side interventions to support access and consumption. They are adapted to local climates and can be produced with minimal use of agrochemicals (Mwadzingeni et al., 2018), yet their biodiversity is declining and they are not well-conserved either in farmer fields (in situ) or genebanks (ex situ) (van Zonneveld et al., 2021). Women dominate AV value chains, but their perspectives are often not well-represented in policy decision-making and priority-setting (Dinssa et al., 2018).

WorldVeg has extensive experience in promoting farm-level use of AVs by providing farmers with small seed kits for their own consumption or selling (Stoilova et al., 2019; N’Danikou et al., 2022). Evidence from Tanzania shows that a quarter of seed kit recipients continue using varieties received after five to 10 years (Wanyama et al., under review). Vegetable seed interventions by national agricultural research programs and seed companies tend to focus on conventional vegetables such as cabbage or tomatoes rather than the more nutrient-dense AVs.

Grant Aims:

The overall goal is to identify and test opportunities for AVs to contribute more substantially to people’s diets and livelihoods and, more broadly, to West Africa’s economies and environments. Aligned projects include Canadian International Food Security Research Fund-supported work in Benin and Nigeria to scale up affordable technologies to increase yields, incomes, and consumption of AVs. A partnership between SNV Netherlands and WorldVeg strives to create jobs and income for women and youth in Kenya through Vegetable Business Networks, with a focus on AVs. 

Specifically, the project aims to address the questions:

  • What are the opportunities and challenges to increasing the use of AVs by farmers and consumers? 
  • How can the role of women and youth be enhanced in the conservation and use of AVs?  
  • Which AV species and varieties are climate-resilient and preferred by farmers and consumers?

Outputs and Outcomes:


  • Gap analysis performed and national map generated of AV biodiversity hotspots
  • Participatory rapid rural appraisal technique (four-cell approach (Sthapit, 2006)) applied to develop seed exchange network; red list of threatened but popular crop species and varieties made; community-level priorities established for conservation based on ecological, economic, nutritional, cultural, and other considerations 
  • Seed sample collection achieving conservation of at least 300 seed samples from threatened, prioritized AV landraces 
  • Implemented activities resulting in establishment of multi-stakeholder platform (MSP) representing diverse local and national food system perspectives to support collaborative processes of participatory research, validating research findings, identifying entry points for action, and selecting innovations that work for scaling
  • Qualitative research (including focus group discussions and interviews) report generated that outlines factors enabling or constraining participation of women and youth in use and conservation of AVs in project sites
  • Guided by research findings and priorities identified by stakeholders, women and youth trained in AV production, processing, seed-saving, marketing, and on-farm conservation as well as role of AVs in healthy diets; gender-sensitive and locally relevant training materials produced for adaptation for use in similar programs in range of settings 
  • Characterization of germplasm accessions of existing and newly collected landraces resulting in selection and development of portfolios of resilient AV varieties for prioritized crops by multi-stakeholder platform 
  • Developed portfolios tested by women and youth farmers on-farm through triadic comparison of technologies (TRICOT) citizen science approach (van Etten, 2016) to select locally adapted and favored varieties by women and youth farmers
  • Training materials developed on regenerative agriculture to train citizen scientist farmers on environmentally friendly production of AVs 


  • Identification, sampling, and conservation of priority AVs, underpinning safeguarding of vegetable biodiversity to further support strengthening of food and nutrition security
  • Design and implementation actions promoting conservation and utilization of priority AVs, focused particularly on women and youth, contributing to safeguarding of vegetable biodiversity, strengthening of food and nutrition security, and enhancing women and youth livelihoods 
  • Climate-resilient and farmer-preferred AV varieties produced locally, contributing to increased resilience of agricultural production systems