The contribution of trees and palms to a balanced diet in three rural villages of the Fatick Province, Senegal

posted on 17.06.2016 by Antoine Sambou, Pernille Kæstel, Ida Theilade, Anders Ræbild

Improving the quality of people’s diets represents a major challenge for developing countries, particularly in Sahelian African countries. Foods from trees, shrubs, and palms are present in many meals and may improve dietary quality, especially for rural communities but, as their contributions have rarely been quantified, investigating the link between the intake of tree foods and the nutritional composition of diet is important. This study assesses the contribution of tree and palm foods to dietary intake in three rural communities in Senegal, using three household food consumption surveys to quantify the dietary intake of meals. The consumption of tree and palm foods in meals was frequent, mentioned by 93–99% of the families depending on the time of year. Products of 11 tree and palm species were used in meals, with Adansonia digitata (baobab) leaves the most frequently mentioned. The energy contribution of tree and palm foods was low, but their contribution of certain micronutrients was high, with 56% of the daily household food consumption of vitamin A, 45% of vitamin C, 17% of vitamin B6 and 21% of iron (Fe). Products from 18 tree and palm species were consumed as snacks or beverages between meals, and consumption was frequent in February and June, but rare in October. We discuss the possibilities of improving nutrition in rural communities from an increased use of trees and palms.