World Conference on Horticultural Research - 17-20 June 1998 in Rome, Italy
WCHR Home   WCHR 1   WCHR 2   WCHR 3   WCHR 4   WCHR 5   Search  


D.S. Mingochi
Senior Agricultural Research Officer,
National Irrigation Research Station,
P/Bag S-3, Mazabuka , Zambia P/Bag S-3, Mazabuka , Zambia


In Zambia, research in fruit crops started in early seventies. Research activities were directed to, identify and develop important crops, develop production packages, develop propagation methods, and identify major pests and diseases and their control: The research work mainly covered exotic fruit trees. Little work has been done on indigenous fruit plants. This paper outlines previous research studies and highlights achievements and research gaps.

In Zambia fruits play a major role in the diets of most households. Fruits are a good source of essential vitamins and minerals. The production and processing of fruits are labour intensive and therefore save to provide employment to a large segment of the population. A lot of people are involved in the marketing and trading of fruits to earn income. Fruits, especially indigenous species are well adapted and can ensure household food security during periods of natural diasters such as droughts.

The tropical climatic conditions in Zambia provide opportunities for the cultivation of various types of fruit species such as Mango, papaya, bananas, guava, passion fruit, loquat, pineapple, avocado, citrus, apple, pear, peach, pomegranate, apricot, plum and grapes. Beyond the cultivated species, there are a large number of indigenous fruit species (Appendix l).
ruit species (Appendix l).

The indigenous fruit species are collected from the wild and are largely under utilised. Though many of these species have some commercial value in their unprocessed forms and usually find their way into urban markets, their potential as industrial raw products is largely unexploited. Little work has been done towards their improvement, domestication or conservation. Some of the fruit species may be endangered making their conservation a matter of urgency. Recently, a national fruit tree and plantation crops working group was formed to advice on the conservation of these crops. The fruit crop working group has determined factors to be considered in the conservation of indigenous fruit species. These factors include: level of genetic variation, genetic erosion, economic value, social value, potential for domestication, ease of propagation, nutritional value and extent of usage and cultivation.


In Zambia, research in fruit crops started in the early seventies. Fruit research falls largely under the Tree and plantation crops programme which covers fruits, nuts, and coffee. The overall research objective is to enhance the development of a viable industry in the fruit sector.

Specific objectives of the programme are:

  1. To identify fruit species that can be developed into important crops.
  2. To develop production packagped into important crops.
  3. To develop production packages for important fruit crops.
  4. To develop propagation methods to ensure disease and pest free propagules.
  5. To identify major pets and diseases and their control measures.

Over the years, the following studies have been carried out in Zambia.




Plant protection


The research studies have yielded a lot of useful results. From the evaluation trials adaptable citrus varieties have been identified and recommended for cultivation in Zambia. These include orange varieties Valencia late, Hamlin, Washington navel and Oasis; Mandarin Dancy tangerine; Grapefruit Marsh seedless and Redblush; Lemons Eureka and Lisbon respectively. The suitability of various combinations of Citrus rootstock and scions have been determined. The results indicated that Orange varieties (Valencia late, Hamlin and Oasis), Mandarin (Dancythat Orange varieties (Valencia late, Hamlin and Oasis), Mandarin (Dancy tangerine) and Grape fruits (Marsh seedless and Red blush) produce the highest yields when budded on rough lemon rootstocks. In the absence of lemon rootstocks, the next best yields can be obtained on Cleopatra Mandarin and Troyer citrange respectively. Lemon cultivars give the highest fruit harvest on Sour orange rootstock. The second best for lemons is Sampson tangelo. It was found that trees that have been budded on the recommended rootstocks give commercial yields of good quality after five years from planting.

From the studies on the introduction and adaptation of temperate fruits, certain adaptable varieties have been identified. These include Apples Anna and Ein-e-sheme, Apricot (Canino), Peaches 26 /31, Early amber and Seinbred nectarine respectively. It has been found that these varieties may be grown with a comparative degree of success.

Several agronomic studies have been conducted for a number of major fruit species. Cultivation packages such as fertilizer requirements, planting methods, pruning, mulching and pest and disease control have been worked out. Information has been published in handbooks, pamphlets and reports. Pre-liminary studies have been conducted by the National Council for Scientific Research on the micro-propagation, domestification and utilisation of some indigenous wild fruits. Recently the fruit research programme activities were prioritiseit research programme activities were prioritised to streamline the research thrust. It focuses on Banana, Citrus and Mango as major fruit tree crops alongside a modest, programme of introduction and evaluation of exotic Tropical and subtropical fruits.

Research Capacity

The Tree and Plant Research Programme is composed of only three Professional officers (BSc. Minimum) and a handful of technical staff. There is lack of staff with adequate training and experience to carry out meaningful research across such diverse species and agro-ecological zones. There is need to increase the number in order to create a strong national team of Cadres.

The Tree and Plantation Research Programme including fruits is financed by government. The government budget is often very little to meet the operations of the programme. There are no facilities such as laboratories, equipment, Cold rooms and glasshouses that are required to carry out fruit research.

Other institutions involved in fruit crop research

Research gaps

  1. Limited varietal base and lack of improved varieties for most of the fruit crops.
  2. Prevalence of pest and diseases in many fruit crops and inadequate research in control methods.
    Citrus phaeoramularia angolensis
    Citrus white fly (Aleurothixus flucosus)
    Various scale insects
  3. Inadequate information on production constraints, technology transfer and cost benefit studies.
  4. Inadequate of research on indigenous fruits.
  5. Inadequate personnel, funding and facilities.
  6. Lack of research in biotechnology.
  7. Lack of post harvest research.


  1. Ministarch.


  1. Ministry of Agriculture and Water Development MAWD. 1983. Tree Crops Research Co-ordinators report.
  2. MAWD. 1981. Tree Crop Co-ordinators report.
  3. MAWD. 1980. Tree Crops Co-ordinators report, 1979-1980.
  4. MAWD. 1982. Tree Crops Co-ordinators report.
  5. MAWD. 1978. Tree Crops Co-ordinators report.
  6. MAWD. 1972. Tree Crop Annual report 1971-1972.
  7. L.K. Sikena, 1993. Tree Crops Research Review. Ministry of Agriculture Food and Fisheries (MAFF)
  8. L.K. Sikena, 1994. Tree and Plantation Crops Annual report. MAFF.
  9. L.K. Sikena, 1996. Paper at Workshop on domestication of indigenous fruit trees. MAFF.
  10. MAFF. 1995. Present status of Plant Genetic Resources in Zambia. Country report for the International Conference and Programme on Plant Genetic Resources compiled by: Mwale, W.M., Mwila, G.P., Zulu, E.D., Mingochi, D.S. and W. Chita.
  11. FAO . 1988. Traditional food plants. pp593. Rome.

Appendix: Indigenous fruit species in Zambia.

Part used
Common name
Adasonia digitata Drink, porridge, snack Roasted and eaten Baobab (E)
Anisophyllea boemii Eaten fresh, jam Mufungo (B)
Annona benegalensis Mulofo (B)
Azanza garckeanaEaten raw, relish Makole (T)
Balanites aegytiaca Drink Mukelete (L,T)
Bauhinia petersiana
Berchemia discolor EateEaten raw, porridge Mwiyi (T)
Borassus aethiopum Whole fruit
Bridelia micrantha Edible fruit, dye
Cordyla africana Wild mango (E)
Dialium engleranum Fruit pulp Muhamani (T,L)
Diosypyros mespiliformis Eaten fresh
Diosypros kirkiiEaten raw Nchenja (B,T)
Ekebergia banguelensis Edible
Garcinia livigstonei Eaten raw, porridge Mutungwa (L,T), Mpule (N)
Garcinia huillensis Eaten raw Nsongwa (B)
Grevia flavescens Fruit pulp Namulomo (L)
Guipourtia coleosperma Seed eaten or used as oil Muzauli (L)
Hexalobus monopetalus Eaten raw Mkandachembele (N)
Hyphaene ventricosa Wine or spiritButtons, bronches Kakunka (T), Munganda (L)
Lannea stuhlmannii Whole spiritSeed kernels
Landolphia parvifolia Mubongo (B)
Lannea discolorFruit pulp
Mimusops zeyheriFruit pulp
Ochana pulchraFlesh Cooking oilCooking oil
Parinari curatellifolia Eaten raw, cooked Seed as oilMupundu (N)

Mubula (T,L)

Parinari capensis Eaten rawKernels, rosted Sand apple (E), Mubulabula (L)
Parkia filicoidea PodsFloury sheath African locust bean (E), Musepa (B)
Piliostigma thonnigi Pods
Ricinodendron rautanenii Fruit pulpNuts Mungongo (L)
Sclerocarya birrea Eaten rawKernels eaten Cider tree (E), Muyombo (L), Msewe (N)
Strychnos innocua Fruit pulp Elephant orange (E), Muhuluhulu
Strychnos pungens Fruit pulp Muhwahwa (L)
Strychnos spinosa Fruit pulp Muhuluhulu (L)
Syzygium cordatum Eaten raw
Syzygium guineense Eaten raw Mufinsa (B), Mutoya (L)
Tamarindus indicus < VALIGN="TOP" WIDTH=175>Tamarindus indicus Pulp Tamarind (E), Musiika (T)
Trichilia emetica Oil used to make soap
Uapaca kirkianaEaten Masuku (T,B,N)
Uapaca sansibrica Eaten raw
Vangueriopsis lanciflora Eaten raw Mbubu (T), Mumonsomonso (L) wild metler (E)
Vitex donianaEaten raw Black plum (E), Mufutu (B), Msimya (N)
XimeniN="LEFT" VALIGN="TOP" WIDTH=175>Ximenia americana Pulp eaten raw Mabona (N), Mutende (L)
Ziziphus mauritiana Eaten raw Masau (T)

Note: B = Bemba, E = English, L = Lozi, N = Nyanja and T = Tonga

WCHR Home   WCHR 1   WCHR 2   WCHR 3   WCHR 4   WCHR 5   Search  

© WCHR   Created 19 May 1998   Maintained by E. Muzzi, M. Ventura, D. Verzoni