Preliminary study on the cultivation potential of wild vegetables Etlingera elatior, E. punicea and Commelina paludosa of Sarawak

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O. Mertz

Abstract

Wild vegetables often play an important role in rural communities in terms of nutrition and food security but their potential for cultivation remains largely unexplored. The young shoots, flowers and fruits of Etlingera elatior andEtlingera punicea, and the shoots of Commelina paludosa are commonlyconsumed in Southeast Asia. Studies on fertiliser response and market value to determine the cultivation potential were carried out in Sarawak, Malaysia. Response to shade was also tested for C. paludosa. Etlingera elatior produces high yields of young shoots with low levels of fertiliser, and cultivation is profitable if the urban demand can be ensured. The yield of the more frequently marketed flower buds was not fully evaluated and ways to increase flower production should be investigated. Etlingera punicea  is not suitable for cultivation under the present trial conditions, but should be tested in other soil types as the young shoots are frequently marketed. Commelina paludosa produced high yields that increase linearly with increasing fertiliser applications under shaded conditions. This species would be excellent for cultivation in shaded home gardens and could be a potentially valuable cash crop if introduced into urban markets. Subsistence farmers may benefit from all three species as they are perennial and may be harvested continuously with low labour input.

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