From the wild to markets and farmlands: Plant species in Biotrade

  • Lusweti A National Museums of Kenya
  • Khayota B National Museums of Kenya
  • Masiga A International Centre Insect Physiology and Eocology
  • Kyalo S Kenya Wildlife Service
  • Otieno J MUHAS
  • Mwangombe J Kenya Forest Service
  • Gravendeel B Naturalist Biodiversity Center and Institute of Biology Leiden-IBL


Wild collection of plant products mainly served subsistence needs but is now increasingly becoming an income generating activity. The needs include food, gums, tubers, fibers, materials for construction and herbal medicine among others. This niche market, part of biotrade in Kenya and is sometimes viewed as crime against wild plants because it is undocumented, largely unregulated and economically unaccounted for. Market surveys were carried out in towns in 8 Kenyan counties served by ports of entry/exit, bordering Uganda and Tanzania. Plant species in trade, products, volumes, sources, market players and associated challenges were documented. The results indicate widespread trade in plants locally, regionally or internationally. More than 100 flowering plant species were documented in trade in Kenyan markets, mainly wild-sourced for various uses. Most are sourced from forest reserves, communal land and small holder farms. This trade is dominated by the male gender, p-value: 0.000128 and product knowledge derives heavily from indigenous knowledge. The average number of species per stall was 28 species, with a mode of 10. The value of the K-S test statistic (D) is .32207 and as it is < .00001, this data is not normally distributed. Skewness: 2.525802 and Kurtosis: 6.846425 values indicate preference of certain species over others and that some species are collected and traded more frequently compared to others. Some 22 species frequently in trade, were identified, profiled and prioritized for conservation. Strategies are needed to sustain supply of the species in trade, hence domestication, farm forestry and restoration on communal land and natural forests are proposed.

How to Cite
A, L., B, K., A, M., S, K., J, O., J, M., & B, G. (2019). From the wild to markets and farmlands: Plant species in Biotrade. East African Agricultural and Forestry Journal, 84(1). Retrieved from