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Volume 6, Issue 2, April Issue - 2018, Pages:405-413

Authors: Neilazonuo Khruomo,Chitta Ranjan Deb
Abstract: Indigenous Wild Edible Fruits (IWEF) plays a vital role in the daily life of the rural people as they provide sustainable resources. The present study aimed at the documentation of IWEF’s of three districts of Nagaland, India viz., Kohima, Phek and Tuensang and assessment of market acceptability. A total of 47 IWEF’s belonging to 29 family and 39 genera were collected and identified. Market survey was carried out to check the market acceptability of the collected IWEF’s in these three districts of Nagaland. Rhus. semialata, T. chebula, S. pinnata, D. indica, E. officinalis, F. semicordata, E. floribundus, J. regia, M. esculenta, P. pershia are some fruits that are common used by the local inhabitants and some of these fruits are also used to treat different diseases through traditional methods.
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1 Introduction

Plants for human consumption account for ~5% of the total plant species of the world (Asfaw & Tadesse, 2001). Forest has a large and indispensable role in improving the food security and livelihood of the tribal society (Yesodharan & Sujana, 2007). During early days, man lived by hunting and fruit gathering collected from the wild (Tomar et al., 2015). Since, wild edible plants are freely accessible within natural habitats; indigenous people have more knowledge in gathering and preparing food items from these wild plant resources (Somnasang & Moreno-Black, 2000). Fruits being a major forest product, supplement human diet as they provide essential vitamins, minerals and fiber required for maintaining health (Kumari, 2008). They play a significant role in the wide range of agricultural system as a source of wild food and have an important socio-economic role through their uses in medicine, dyes, shelter, fibers, and religious and traditional ceremonies (FAO, 1999). Fruits being one of largest forest resource have the potentiality to uplift the economic condition as well as providing the food security to the local people of the region (Deb et al., 2013). World over, tribal population stores a vast knowledge on utilization of local plants as food and other specific uses (Sudriyal et al., 1998). A large number of wild spices used by the tribal in meeting their daily requirement are through the diverse vegetation of that area. Use of large number of wild species by the tribal to meet their diverse requirement is largely due to the prevalence of diversity of vegetation in the area (Katewa, 2003). The North-Eastern region of India is inhabited by mixed tribes and mostly dominated by the tribal people unlike the mainland of India. Nagaland state is situated in the North-Eastern part of India and is a hilly area surrounded by dense natural forest with warm and cool climatic condition and variation in rainfall thereby making it one of the richest and diverse flora and fauna in the North-East region of India. Nagaland state is inhabited mostly by the tribal’s with distinct dialects and cultural features.  Utilization of wild edible plants as a food source is an integral part of the culture of indigenous people of Naga tribe as the forest harbors rich and unique biodiversity with the state being a part of the Indo-Burma biodiversity hot spot (Deb et al., 2016). Since early times, edible wild fruits have played a very vital part in supplementing the diet of the people and to meet their basic need of food, mostly the tribal people, and some of which are preserved for use in dry period or sold in rural market (Deshmukh & Waghmode, 2011). They also form an additional income (for small landholders and landless) living near forest and fringes through sale in local market (Pradheep et al., 2016). The market price fluctuates according to the season of collection, climate and availability. A vendor earns their livelihood from the selling of these forest resources, thereby sustaining their livelihood - INR 1 lakh to 2.5 lakhs for a season (Sashimatsung et al., 2013). Some of the commonly abundant fruits and fruit products found in the household as well as the local market are Rhus semialata, Terminalia chebula, Spondias pinnata, Docynia indica, Emblica officinalis, Ficus semicordata, Elaeocarpus floribundus, Juglans regia, Myrica esculenta, Pyrus pershia, Castanopsis indica Choerospondias axillaris, Diospyros kaki, Hodgsonia macrocarpa etc. Wild fruits collection is not a gender oriented in the region, both young and old, men and women are equally involved or participate.  Indigenous Wild Edible Fruits (IWEF) contributes immensely to the nutrition of the local inhabitants of Nagaland. Present study was undertaken to document the IWEF of three districts of Nagaland, India viz., Kohima, Phek and Tuensang, assess the market acceptability as a source of ‘sustainable resources for food, medicine and income generation’.

2 Materials and Methods

2.1 Survey areas

The district of Kohima, Phek and Tuensang of Nagaland was considered for the present study. Kohima is the capital city of Nagaland located between 25.40?N and 94.08?E and is surrounded by the Assam state to the west, Zunheboto district to the east, Wokha district to the north and Manipur state to the south. It is the home of the Angamis Naga tribe and agriculture is the main occupation. Phek district lies in the South-East of Nagaland located between 25.40?N and 94.28?E bounded by Kohima district in the west, Zunheboto and Kiphire districts in the North, Myanmar in the South East and Manipur state in the South. The district is inhibited by the Chakhesang Naga tribe and agriculture is the main occupation with 80.84% of the population engaged in agriculture. While, Tuensang district is the largest district of Nagaland located between 26.14?N and 94.49?E. The district shares an international border with Myanmar all along its eastern sector and is bounded by Mon district in the north east, Longleng in the north, Mokokchung in the south. Chang, Sangtam, Yimchunger and Khiamniungan are the main indigenous tribes of the district. Jhum is the main agricultural practice of the district. Figure 1 showing the three study areas viz.,Kohima, Phek and Tuensang district.

2.2 Field work/data collection

Intensive field works were undertaken along with the local field guide in different fruiting seasons in the districts of Kohima, Phek and Teunsang during the year 2014-2016. The primary aim of the study is to collect, identify and document the wild edible fruits used by the local inhabitants of these districts of Nagaland. The authentic identification of the collected wild fruits was done with the help of the available authentic literature and also the experts in the concern fields. Information based on the mode of consumption and uses as food or medicines by the locals were also recorded by interacting with the local inhabitants. Both conventional and digital herbariums were maintained for future study. The collected fruits were preserved in 2% formalin (v/v) in the jar bottles and deposited in the Department of Botany, Nagaland University for future references. Market survey was also carried out in the local market of these districts to check the market acceptability of the indigenous wild edible fruits. During the market survey, the marketed plants and their product were recorded along with their marketed rate/price as the products are sold either in packets, plate, bunch or cup (local system of marketing). There is no specify standard measurement units exist as the price varies according to different seasons of the collection, area to area etc.

3 Results

In the present study, a total of 47 IWEFs have been collected belonging to 29 family and 39 genera (Table 1). The collected IWEF belongs to the family Actinidiaceae, Anacardiaceae, Berberidaceae, Caesalpiniaceae, Cannabaceae, Capparaceae, Combretaceae, Cornaceae, Clusiaceae, Cucurbitaceae, Ebenaceae, Elaeocarpaceae, Euphorbiaceae, Fagaceae, Juglandiaceae, Lauraceae, Moraceae, Myricaceae, Myrtaceae, Olacaceae, Oxalidaceae, Passifloraceae Phyllantheceae, Rhamnaceae, Rhizophoraceae, Rosaceae, Rutaceae, Solanaceae,  Urticaceae. The family Rosaceae exhibits the maximum number with 8 species (18%) followed by the family Actinidiaceae Anacardiaceae, Cucurbitaceae, Moraceae with 3 species each (7.2%). The distribution of families is shown in table 2. Some of common fruits are shown in figure 2. The collected plants are arranged in alphabetical order with their common name, family, flowering and fruiting season and mode of consumption along with their accession number (Table 1). Table 3 shows some of IWEF’s used in different traditional methods of food and medicine by the inhabitants of these three districts. Some of                the fruit products were found to be sold fresh, dried or cooked in the



local market during the market survey. Table 4 shows some of the indigenous wild fruits in rate per unit INR that were found selling in the local market of the three study area. The market price or rate of the fruits varies from area to area, from season to season and also supply of the product in the market by the locals.

The market price of the product ranges from INR 10-100 per packet/cup/plate. The market price also varies in all the local markets of these districts.  During the market survey in the local market of these three districts, it was found that there was no standard measurement exists for the products that are marketed. The market survey shows that some of these fruits sold are highly accepted and demanded due to its good taste and medicinal value.

4 Discussion

In India especially the North-Eastern region, the majority of the rural communities are   dependent on the forest product to meet their food needs even during food crisis. The diverse biodiversity of Nagaland plays an important and significant role in providing


various wild edible plants specially people living in the core remote areas that faces lesser opportunities and chances as compare to those living in the town. Since the forest resources are freely accessible to the local, wild edible fruits become an important source of food and nutrient to the locals. The uses of wild edibles fruits are different among the tribes of Nagas. They have their use of tradition food and medicine which are passed down from generation to generation. The present study shows that both young and old indulge in collecting IWEF’s for various purposes such as food, medicine and marketing. Some of the collected fruits are documented in figure 2. The market survey shows that the plants and products are well accepted in the local markets of these districts. The market rate also varies from area to area, season to season collection and abundance and availability of the plants and plant products in the local market (Deb et al., 2016).

Collection and utilization of IWEF’s has become an important part in the daily lives of the rural people as they represent a cheaper and easy accessible and also offering opportunities for income generation to the local people uplifting the socio-economic status of the local people. But with the passage of time, the rich biodiversity of the state is facing extensive threats due to ever growing population leading to more demand for land and space, forest fires, unplanned urbanization, forest products and timber collection, ‘Jhum cultivation’ and many anthropogenic activities. Therefore, proper strategy needs to be implemented for conservation of the forest to prevent extinction of plants in the near future. Many plants which are considered underutilized or neglected are important crops at national and regional level; therefore availability of information on plant species with potentiality for food, medicine and income generation should be promoted through sustainable collection and trade which will enable resource development and better management of these plants. Wild edible fruits contribute significantly to the nutritional security of mankind across the world (Bhatt et al., 2017). Many collected fruits have been used for traditional medicine purposed by the locals (Table 3), therefore phytochemical and nutraceutical studies of these wild edible fruits will provide better nutritional source for the future. Also, many local products have been produce from the wild fruits that has been collected but their product outputs may be missing for various reasons, therefore it is the need of hour for the policy and decision makers to take initiative steps to improve the processing of the local products, to create awareness for better market acceptability, proper commercial scale cultivation, proper conservation strategies (Deb et al., 2016) and promote them to global level. Wild edible plant persists as they are in use by the local people in different means.


The present study is an approach made to promote the wild edible plants that are richly available in the rural areas to the higher level (regional, national and also global) and an attempt to widen the shrinking food basket which mankind has been relying upon for generations. At the same time, taking in consideration that they be use judiciously so it sustains the near future generation as the study shows that these plants are growing under pressure from various anthropogenic activities. Therefore, public awareness and community based management needs to be encouraged as well. Research on indigenous fruits should also be taken up and disseminate the results so to have diversity in diet.


Authors are thankful to the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology, New Delhi, India for financial support for the present study through ‘Institutional Biotech Hub to Prof. C. R. Deb. Authors are also thankful to the local people of Kohima, Phek and Tuensang for providing their valuable knowledge and rendering their services during the survey. Facilities used from the UGC-SAP(DRS-III) programme is duly acknowledged.


Authors declare that there is no conflict of interest exists. Further, declare that the manuscript has not been published in any journal/book or proceedings or in any other publication or offered for publication elsewhere in substantially the same or abbreviated form, either in print or electronically.


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