Utilization and nutritive values of indigenous fruit trees: A case study of Chegere sub-county, Apac District.
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Uganda has a wide diversity of indigenous fruit trees (IFTs), of which there has been little documentation about utilization and nutritional values of these fruits. This study was conducted in Chegere sub-County, with the overall aim of generating information about utilization and nutritive values of indigenous fruit trees. The specific objectives for this study were: 1) to indentify the indigenous fruits known, collected and utilized by the local communities in the study area, 2) to assess the factors affecting collection and utilization of IFTs and 3) to determine some nutrient composition of selected indigenous fruits. Household surveys together with group interviews were used to collect ethnobotanical data. Standard laboratory analytical techniques were used to analyze nutritional data. The results of the household survey indicate that about 89% of the household are food insecure and rely on IFTs to supplement their household food requirement. The major IFTs collected from the wild were Tamarindus indica (93%),Vitex doniana (81%) Borassus aethiopium (75%),Vangueria apiculata (67%),Phoenix reclinata (61%) and Ximenia americana (57%). Children (50 %) and Women (25%) were the main collectors of indigenous fruits. The main consumers of IFTs collected were children (92%) and women (6%). The major factors influencing consumption of IFTs were age (30%), traditional belief (28 %) and wealth (20%). Collection of IFTs appeared to be influenced by accessibility and distance people have to move to collect fruits. Nutritional studies showed that all the selected fruits contained adequate level of essential food nutrients except crude lipid, Magnesium and Phosphorous, required for normal body functioning. Dry matter content in the studied fruits ranged between 23.71-76.57%, moisture content 23.43-76.29%, ash content 4.65-10.57%, crude protein 2.74-5.58%, crude fibre 1.12-8.27%, crude lipid 0.01-0.90% and energy 325.14-367.53% on dry weight basis. There were significant different (P<0.05) in the proximate composition between the fruits except ash content. Mineral composition of the fruits studied ranged from 0.57-440.10 mg/100g on dry weight basis. Significantly different (P<0.05) were observed in the mineral composition between the fruits. Vitamin C contents ranged from 39.93-67.89 mg/100g dry weight basis and beta-carotene ranged from 373.81-913.20µg/g on dry matter basis. Therefore, incorporating IFTs as alternative food sources will improve food security and the nutritional status of resource-poor rural households.