A message from Graham KNIGHT (BioDesign)

Recently I was asked what could be done about an invasion of the Dodder weed which attacks most plants it finds nearby.

It seems to be found in many parts of Africa and is a real threat to small farmers.

If you want to know more get in contact.


However this leads on to kitchen gardens which will probably be vital while any weed control is underway! Kitchen gardens are often neglected in favour of field cultivation but acre for acre are far more productive so worth some effort. Kitchen gardens/allotments in the UK can produce far more food than farmers fields!!

Until recently; ” Home growing produced ten times the food per acre than arable farms!”


 Here is advice on what to grow in Africa. Local foods are usually better than those imported; Seeds for Africa, has been instrumental in helping children gain access to local, nutritious fruits and vegetables. 

A central part of this organization’s work is teaching children the value of growing their own food by helping them to establish kitchen gardens and fruit tree orchards. Seeds for Africa funds kitchen vegetable garden development at primary schools in Malawi, Kenya, Uganda, and Sierra Leone.


Busia County in western Kenya is home to a variety of indigenous vegetables. But for decades, a shift in popular taste away from indigenous crops relegated the vegetables to the periphery in favour of kale, cabbage, and other exotic vegetables. Lately, the tide has been turning. Nutritionists are raising awareness about the value of indigenous vegetables.  And kitchen gardens, areas in a homestead where families grow leafy vegetables, fruit, and herbs, are becoming more popular.

Mrs. Orodi says most households now produce enough vegetables for their families to eat, and sell their surplus at the local market and beyond. She says: “Indigenous vegetables fetch better prices compared to exotic ones like kales and cabbages because many people have learnt from experts that they are highly nutritious. It’s a pity they have been ignored by the local community.” As well as championing indigenous vegetables, SINGI encourages farmers to grow wild vegetable species that have long been ignored.

Other organizations have supported the farmers to practice organic agriculture, and provided training materials on health, environment, and agriculture. Mr. Buluma says, “The initiative has enhanced production of indigenous vegetables, leading to their availability in large quantities in homes and markets, unlike some years ago.” Mr. Buluma is urging the government of Kenya to create a policy which promotes consumption of indigenous vegetables and organic farming. He says this will lead to better health for Kenyans and environmental protection.

Members of Mrs. Oridi’s group grow Indian spinach, jute, crotalaria, solanum, spider plant, amaranth, pumpkin leaves, and African kale.  Group members receive certified seeds from the Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organisation and produce seeds for sale. According to Mrs. Oridi, the vegetables are drought-resistant. This is a benefit during the dry season, as the increased demand means higher prices.

Graham K – BioDesign


Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.