Prosopis pods as human food, with special reference to Kenya.

Julia Wright, Nick Pasiecznik, Simon K Choge, Melissa Harvey, Philip Harris

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    56 Citations (Scopus)


    Several legume tree and shrub species of the genus Prosopis from South and Central America have been distributed
    around the dry regions of the world over the past 200 years. The first documented introduction of Prosopis in Kenya was
    in 1973, since when it has spread widely, adversely affecting natural habitats, rangelands and cultivated areas. P. juliflora is
    the most common naturalised species in Kenya, but P. pallida also occurs. In contrast to their undesirable effects as invasive
    weeds, many Prosopis species are valuable multipurpose resources in their native range, providing timber, firewood, livestock
    feed, human food, shade, shelter and soil improvement. The pods, which are high in sugars, carbohydrates and protein,
    have been a historic source of food for human populations in North and South America providing flour and other edible
    products. However, this indigenous knowledge has not followed the Prosopis trees and the fruit are unused or provide
    only fodder for livestock in most of Africa and Asia. Although Prosopis will not easily be eradicated in Kenya, a degree of
    control may be achieved through intensive utilisation of tree products and by improved management. In 2005, a project was
    launched in Kenya to develop income-generating activities using Prosopis. A workshop in 2006 explored the possibility of
    producing locally-acceptable food from Prosopis flour. Taste tests and feedback on the different recipes indicated that all
    of the food made with 20% Prosopis flour had a pleasant taste. Preliminary analyses of Prosopis flour samples from
    Kenya indicate good nutritional properties, but also the presence of aflatoxins and Ochratoxin A. Further study is required
    to determine toxin levels in freshly harvested pods, and in pods and flour after various periods of storage, and to develop
    appropriate harvesting and storage methods to maximise nutritional benefit and minimise risk to human health.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)419-424
    Number of pages6
    JournalWater SA
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2007


    • Aflatoxin
    • human food
    • Kenya
    • Ochratoxin A
    • Prosopis


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