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Rural peoples are mostly dependent on Wild Edible Fruits (WEFs) in most cases to fulfill their nutritional requirements. They are not only depends either for nutritional needs or for daily food securities but also depends for their daily health treatments as medicinal purposes on Wild Edible Fruits. This wild edible fruits significantly influences their livelihood and food security. WEFs play a vital role by providing an important safety net to the rural poor people by means of dietary supplement or an important component of coping strategies as a form of survival at the times of food scarcity or shortage periods such as during famine and war and act as emergency food in times of drought or other crises. The use of WEFs as a source of food, medicine and nutritional supplement is not new but since ancient times and still are widely consumed by many people in rural areas, tribal and indigenous communities.
WEFs can be defined here as those fruits that are edible to human and produce in plants including native and introduced species that grow spontaneously in self-maintaining populations in natural or semi-natural ecosystems and can exist independently without any human interventions such as without being cultivation or domestication.
WEFs have a great nutritional and medicinal value and considered as a good source of vitamins and minerals (micronutrients) such as copper, zinc, iron, manganese, magnesium e.t.c. and certain hormones in addition to protein and energy; which all are essential for human body. Such even in some cases, many of these wild fruits contain richer nutritional values and mineral contents than that of commercial fruits.
Like other many developing countries in the world, millions of children and women of Bangladesh have suffering from one or more forms of malnutrition problems such as low birth weight, wasting, stunting, underweight, Vitamin A deficiencies, iodine deficiency disorders and anemia. Most of the children and women are poor rural inhabitants. The malnutrition problems in Bangladesh are ranked highest position in the world. The deficiencies of energy, vitamins, and minerals especially iron and folic acid are the main causes of these malnutrition.
Since most of the people of Bangladesh are poor and live in rural areas, so, they do not able to buy commercial fruits due to its high price and unavailability in rural area. In this case, WEFs can play a vital role by providing essential mineral and nutrients among these peoples. But in the current time, these wild fruits producing plants are amazingly decreasing and further under threat, such even some of these are in extinct stage due to over exploitation and various pressure of anthropogenic activities such as cutting of forest and jungle. So, it is essential to conserve and proper take care of these plants.
Barisal is a division of Bangladesh located in the south central part of the country was composed of an amalgamation of marshlands formed by the merging of islands brought into existence and built up by alluvial soils washed down the great channels of the combined Brahmaputra-Ganges-Meghna river systems and makes it fertile. Moreover, this area provides different types of natural and semi-natural habitats and ecosystems including wetland, char land, riparian, scrub jungles, fallow lands etc. which offer a large extent diversity of WEFs in Barisal region probably its fertile land containing alluvial soils and that play an important role in the local community by providing essential mineral and nutrients elements and in primary health care system. But unfortunately, there is no authentic data regarding documentation of WEFs in these areas. Many investigators were accomplished work on wild edible fruits at different areas in India and other parts of the world. But so far no such work has been previously report in Bangladesh. In the present study, we conducted the investigation on WEFs in Barisal region to explore its nutritional and medicinal value. The main objectives of the present study are to explore, identify and document wild edible fruits of Barisal region in various natural or semi-natural ecosystems.
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