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Collection, consumption and sale of lusala (Dioscorea hirtiflora), a wild yam, by rural households in the Southern Province of Zambia

Zulu, D., Ellis, R. H. and Culham, A. ORCID: (2019) Collection, consumption and sale of lusala (Dioscorea hirtiflora), a wild yam, by rural households in the Southern Province of Zambia. Economic Botany, 73 (1). pp. 47-63. ISSN 0013-0001

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1007/s12231-018-9433-3


Dioscorea hirtiflora Benth. is an indigenous wild edible tuberous climbing plant native to Zambia. Known as lusala, the tubers are sold in markets across southern Zambia. Lusala collection, consumption and trade was investigated through interviews with rural households (four districts) and market traders (three towns), and supplementary focus group discussions. Of 278 households interviewed, high proportions collected (83%), consumed (96%), and sold (59%) lusala, not varying amongst district or wealth category. Lusala populations were perceived to be declining in the wild by 79% of households. Tuber collection, largely by females and mainly from March to September, peaked in April when households engaged in each activity collected 27.9kg, consumed 12.0kg, and sold 35.7kg (from 129, 108, and 69 reporting households, respectively) that month, regardless of district, wealth category, or gender. Those sales provided an average household income of USD 16 in April 2017. In August 2017, each market trader purchased an average of 899kg for USD 383. Local knowledge of D. hirtiflora was considerable. Lusala collected from forests is an important edible wild tuber in the local economy of the Southern Province of Zambia: it provides a seasonally-important food supply and income to rural households and supplies demand from urban populations.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences > Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development > Department of Crop Science
ID Code:79054
Uncontrolled Keywords:Dioscorea hirtiflora Benth., tubers, non-timber forest products, wild edible plants, rural households, markets, Zambia


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