Improvement of traditional processing of local monkey orange (Strychnos spp.) fruits to enhance nutrition security in Zimbabwe

Ruth T. Ngadze, Ruud Verkerk, Loveness K. Nyanga, Vincenzo Fogliano, Anita R. Linnemann*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Although the monkey orange (Strychnos spp.) tree fruit is widely distributed in Southern Africa and particularly in Zimbabwe, it is underutilized and little attention has been given to its potential commercialisation due to limited knowledge and information. Most of the fruits and their products are wasted because of limited harvest time, process control and storage conditions, leading to variability in shelf life and sensory quality, thereby impacting nutritional quality. Traditional processing techniques make insufficient use of this food resource within rural communities. This study aimed at identifying the existing bottlenecks by means of a survey among 102 smallholder farming respondents in the wet and dry regions of Zimbabwe. Results revealed that S. cocculoides and S. spinosa were used by 48% of respondents as a functional ingredient in porridge, by 25% in fermented mahewu drink and by 15% of respondents as a non-alcoholic juice. The fruits of S. innocua and S. madagascariensis are preferably processed into dried products. Taste, flavour and colour were the important quality characteristics for all processed products, and constraints to be solved are seed-flesh separation, long processing times, separation of juice and pulp during storage as well as pulp viscosity. Respondents reported monkey orange products to have health benefits for children and immune-compromised people, who, on regular consumption, have reportedly increased weight and resistance to disease. The positive perception about the processed products of Strychnos spp. offer a good opportunity to improve nutrition security by capitalizing on these not-yet-fully-exploited resources, but technological solutions to improve sensory quality and shelf life must be developed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)621-633
JournalFood Security
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 18 May 2017


  • Monkey orange
  • Strychnos cocculoides
  • Strychnos innocua
  • Strychnos madagascariensis
  • Strychnos spinosa
  • Traditional processing


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