Exploring the Market Potential of Wild Edible Plants in Ethnic Communities

Greg Howard
29th May, 2024

Exploring the Market Potential of Wild Edible Plants in Ethnic Communities

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • The study by Mizoram University in India documented 70 wild edible vegetables (WEVs) used by two major ethnic groups
  • 33 of these WEVs have medicinal importance, with leafy vegetables being the most consumed part
  • The market survey found 47 WEVs being sold in Bara Bazar, with prices ranging from 0.1 to 2.4 USD
The study conducted by Mizoram University[1] focuses on the traditional knowledge of wild edible vegetables (WEVs) among two major ethnic groups in Mizoram, India. This research is crucial as it addresses the decline in indigenous knowledge regarding WEVs over recent decades. The study also aims to assess the market status of these vegetables, providing a comprehensive understanding of their cultural and economic significance. To gather data, researchers conducted an ethnobotanical survey involving 72 informants through semi-structured interviews, questionnaires, and direct field observations. They used various ethnobotanical indices such as Informant's Consensus Factor (ICF), Fidelity Level Value (FL), and Direct Matrix Ranking (DMR) to analyze the collected information. Additionally, a market survey was conducted in Bara Bazar, the largest local market in Mizoram, where 38 vendor informants were interviewed to determine the prices of commonly sold WEVs. The study documented and identified a total of 70 WEVs, distributed across 58 genera and 36 families. Out of these, 33 WEVs were found to have medicinal importance. Leafy vegetables were the most frequently consumed parts, accounting for 55.71% of the total. The majority of these plants (44.29%) were consumed in fried form. The highest level of agreement among informants for food use categories was observed for plants combined with dry fish (ICF = 1). The ICF for disease categories ranged from 0.75 to 1, with the highest values reported for convulsion, sleep inducer, and antiseptic properties (ICF = 1). Picria fel-terrae was the most preferred plant for treating hypertension, with a 100% FL. Dysoxylum excelsum was identified as a highly utilized multipurpose species, according to the DMR (DMR = 64). The Jaccard Similarity Index (JI) between the two ethnic groups was 1.26. The market survey revealed that 47 WEVs were commercialized in Bara Bazar, with prices ranging from 0.1 to 2.4 USD. Ensete superbum was reported as near threatened according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. This study aligns with previous research on the role of wild foods in local diets. For instance, a study conducted in the East Usambara Mountains found that wild foods, although contributing only 2% of total energy in the diet, played a significant role in providing essential vitamins and minerals[2]. Similar to the Mizoram study, the earlier research highlighted the importance of agricultural participation in maintaining the use of wild foods. The Mizoram study further enriches this understanding by documenting the dual role of WEVs as both food and medicine, a concept also explored in research conducted in NE Brazil[3]. The Brazilian study found that the most culturally important wild plants were those easiest to acquire and with the highest perceived nutritional values, a finding that resonates with the Mizoram study's emphasis on the ease of acquisition and multipurpose use of WEVs. Additionally, the use of medicinal plants documented in the Mizoram study echoes findings from research on indigenous medical systems in Mexico. The Mexican study revealed that medicinal plants are often selected based on well-defined cultural criteria, particularly for treating gastrointestinal illnesses and culture-bound syndromes[4]. In Mizoram, the high ICF values for specific medicinal uses suggest a similar cultural consensus on the importance of particular WEVs for treating various ailments. In conclusion, the study by Mizoram University underscores the rich diversity and significant cultural importance of WEVs in Mizoram. The findings highlight the need for conservation efforts to preserve this traditional knowledge and ensure the sustainable use of these valuable resources. By documenting the traditional uses and market status of WEVs, the study provides a foundation for future research into their nutritional and pharmacological properties, thereby contributing to the broader understanding of ethnobotanical practices.

VegetablesAgriculturePlant Science


Main Study

1) Wild edible vegetables of ethnic communities of Mizoram (Northeast India): an ethnobotanical study in thrust of marketing potential.

Published 29th May, 2024

Journal: Journal of ethnobiology and ethnomedicine

Issue: Vol 20, Issue 1, May 2024

Related Studies

2) Wild foods from farm and forest in the East Usambara Mountains, Tanzania.


3) Wild plants and the food-medicine continuum-an ethnobotanical survey in Chapada Diamantina (Northeastern Brazil).


4) Medicinal plants in Mexico: healers' consensus and cultural importance.

Journal: Social science & medicine (1982), Issue: Vol 47, Issue 11, Dec 1998

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