Veld Product Research & Development - Protecting Africa's Forests.

VPR&D pursues a holistic approach to the utilisation and management of veld products; this not only involves the identification of various natural resources with economic potential but also the development of appropriate processing technologies so as to increase the value added at village level and the development of markets for veld products which are non-threatening to the resource base.

The sustainable management of veld resources is a key aspect of all programmes.

Indigenous Fruit Tree Research. Indigenous fruit trees yield a crop even in poor rainfall years when arable agriculture fails, thereby improving food security for rural households. The growing of fruit trees means less dependence on arable agriculture which, in turn, reduces the workload on women and also decreases environmental degradation. On average, one year in three is a crop failure for arable agriculture in Botswana, hence the importance of indigenous fruit trees. The indigenous fruit trees that are being domesticated include:

  • Morula (Sclerocarya birrea subsp. caffra)

  • Mongongo (Schinziophyton rautanenii)

  • Mmilo (Vangueria infausta)

  • Mogorogorwane (Strychnos cocculoides)

  • Morutlwa ( Strychnos spinosa)

  • Morojwa (Azanza garckeana)

Research to domesticate the Kalahari truffle (Terfezia pfeilii) is currently underway.

Commercial Nurseries. VPR&D has established commercial Nurseries in Botswana.nurseries, located in the village of Gabane, for exotic and indigenous fruit trees as well as indigenous ornamental plants.

Mycorrhizae Research. A wide range of mycorrhizae (fungi) occur naturally in the soil which form symbiotic relationships with plants which assists the trees to be more drought tolerant and to take up trace elements.

Pests and Disease Control. VPR&D's research is looking into the viability of both chemical and biological controls of pests and diseases in indigenous fruit trees after identifying the pests and their natural enemies.

Product development .VPR&D's research, with its emphasis on simple technologies that are appropriate at village level, is developing a wide range of veld products so as to allow rural people the opportunity to generate income throughout the year with maximum value added at the village level. Considerable research has been undertaken in processing indigenous fruits, Morula in particular, to produce jams, juices and dried fruit products.

Community-based Agroforestry. VPR&D is investigating an agroforestry system that combines traditional crops, rainwater harvesting and indigenous fruit trees. Through community participation VPR&D aims to develop a sustainable, appropriate agroforestry system that will improve food security and generate income for rural households in semi-arid areas, particularly in poor rainfall years.

Community-based Natural Resources Management (CBNRM). The foundation of VPR&D's programming strategy, for economic and environmental development through the sustainable utilisation of indigenous natural resources, employs a community-governed system for managing the natural resources. The current CBNRM project, VPR&D's "CBMIF" project, is the output of a Participatory Rural Assessment (PRA) exercise which was conducted in three villages in the Western Kwaneng district.

Buying and Marketing. Because rural communities Buying and selling truffles in Botswana, Africa.experience so much difficulty in marketing their products, VPR&D is working to establish a regional buying and marketing network.

Consultancy and Training. VPR&D can undertake consultancies in the whole spectrum of veld products including identification, marketing, processing and management. In the near future, VPR&D will also offer training and information resources services in the growing and care of indigenous fruit trees and other aspects of VPR&D's activities.

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