Cordia africana (Lam.) fruit and its uses
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There are several underutilised and neglected species used as food in the world. These food sources are under threat of disappearing and their knowledge base being forgotten. One such plant is the Cordia africana. Though it grows all over Africa and the Middle East, focus on its use has been limited to its wood value. In addition to the wood value, this study has showed that it has a great potential in contributing to the overall nutrition of our society, especially as it is a tree and is known to be able to produce fruits even in drought years. This is a fruit that is locally available, cheap and easy to use, and its use value is well known by the local communities. With the climate change and the increasing human population, it is wise to conserve and promote such food sources, and make them available for a wider range of our population through improved processing and marketing. Nutritionally Cordia africana was found to be a good source of total phenols. It is also a good partial source for nutritionally important vitamin A and Iron, as well as for protein, vitamin C, calcium, copper, potassium, magnesium, manganese, and phosphorus. Additionally, it was found to contain very little zinc and sodium. The physical characteristics and nutritional composition was found to vary across land use and agroecology, showing that there is a high potential for further improvement, and need for studying and selecting materials to be used for propagation. The fruit processing study showed that the fresh fruit processing needs improvment, while fruit marketing needs further study and improvement. With the dried fruits, the cabinet drier substantially reduced the time needed for drying from 63 to 5 days, and the dried fruit processing has great potential and needs further study. The jam was also possible to make, and needs further study on processing, packaging, shelf life and marketing potential. The fruit as a whole and the processed products need promotion and marketing. The traditional medicinal value assessment showed that the fruit is used to treat gastrointestinal symptoms, and the anthelmintic and constipation treatment claims show potential and need further study. As the fruit has been used as food for a long time, if through research it is found to be effective as an anthelmintic and constipation treatment, the use of it will not only help with mitigating the illnesses but also improve nutrition. In conclusion, the fruit was found to be a nutritious fruit, which needs further attention in assessing its processing options, marketing and promotion. As there was great variation in the tested properties, there is a need for the screening and selection of appropriate seed sources for the promotion and wide scale planting. It also merits further investigation into its medicinal use.