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Article

A Comprehensive Appraisal of the Wild Food Plants and Food System of Tribal Cultures in the Hindu Kush Mountain Range; a Way Forward for Balancing Human Nutrition and Food Security †

1
Department of Plant Sciences, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad 45320, Pakistan
2
Pakistan Academy of Sciences, Islamabad 45320, Pakistan
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University of Gastronomic Sciences Pollenzo, Piazza V. Emanuele II, I-12042 Bra/Pollenzo, Italy
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Department of Medical Analysis, Tishk International University, Erbil 44001, Kurdistan, Iraq
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Department of Botany, University of Peshawar, Peshawar 25130, Pakistan
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Department of Botany, GPGC Khar Bajaur 18650, Pakistan
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Department of Botany, SBBU Sharingal Warai campus Dir, Sheringal 18200, Pakistan
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Center for Plant Sciences and Biodiversity, University of Swat, Mingora 19130, Pakistan
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Botany and Microbiology Department, College of Science, King Saud University, Riyadh 11451, Saudi Arabia
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Mycology and Plant Disease Survey Department, Plant Pathology Research Institute, ARC, Giza 12511, Egypt
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Plant Production Department, College of Food and Agricultural Sciences, King Saud University, Riyadh 11451, Saudi Arabia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
This article is dedicated to the memory of Habib Ahmad (TI), Emeritus of Hazara University, Pakistan & Fellow of the Pakistan Academy of Sciences who passed away on 7 April 2021; Habib was an extraordinary scholar and great human being and he has represented an irreplaceable academic guide for generations of young botanists, plant ecologists, and agricultural scientists across the globe.
Academic Editor: António Raposo
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 5258; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13095258
Received: 17 March 2021 / Revised: 26 April 2021 / Accepted: 27 April 2021 / Published: 8 May 2021
The tribal belt of the Hindu Kush mountains is famous for its unique culture, ethnography, wild food plants, food systems, and traditional knowledge. People in this region gather wild plants and plant parts using them directly or in traditional cuisine, or sell them in local markets. However, there is a huge lack of documentation of the food system, particularly that related to wild food plants (WFP). In the current study, we focus on the uses and contributions of WFPs in the traditional tribal food system of the Hindu Kush valleys along the Pakistan–Afghanistan border. Ethnobotanical data were gathered through questionnaire surveys of 84 informants, including 69 men and 15 women, belonging to 21 different villages of the chosen area. In tribal societies men and women rarely mix and thus very few women took part in the surveys. We documented 63 WFP species belonging to 34 botanical families, of which 27 were used as vegetables, 24 as fruits, six in different kinds of chutneys (starters), and six as fresh food species. Fruits were the most used part (41%), followed by leaves (24%), aerial parts (24%), seeds (7%), stems (3%), and young inflorescences (1%). The reported uses of Carthamus oxyacantha, Pinus roxburghii seeds, and Marsilea quadrifolia leaves are novel for the gastronomy of Pakistan. The results reveal that WFPs provide a significant contribution to local food systems and play a role in addressing human nutritional needs, which are usually not met through farming practices. The tribal peoples of the Hindu Kush use WFPs for their nutritional value, but also as a cultural practice—an inseparable component of the tribal community’s lifestyle. This important traditional knowledge about the gathering and consumption of WFPs, however, is eroding at an alarming rate among younger generations due to the introduction of fast-food, modernization, and globalization. Therefore, appropriate strategies are imperative not only to safeguard traditional plants and food knowledge and practices, as well as the cultural heritage attached to them, but also to foster food security and thus public healthcare via local wild foods in the region. View Full-Text
Keywords: gastronomy; livelihood; public healthcare; traditional knowledge; wild food plants; valleys of the Hindu Kush mountain range gastronomy; livelihood; public healthcare; traditional knowledge; wild food plants; valleys of the Hindu Kush mountain range
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MDPI and ACS Style

Abdullah, A.; Khan, S.M.; Pieroni, A.; Haq, A.; Haq, Z.U.; Ahmad, Z.; Sakhi, S.; Hashem, A.; Al-Arjani, A.-B.F.; Alqarawi, A.A.; Abd_Allah, E.F. A Comprehensive Appraisal of the Wild Food Plants and Food System of Tribal Cultures in the Hindu Kush Mountain Range; a Way Forward for Balancing Human Nutrition and Food Security. Sustainability 2021, 13, 5258. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13095258

AMA Style

Abdullah A, Khan SM, Pieroni A, Haq A, Haq ZU, Ahmad Z, Sakhi S, Hashem A, Al-Arjani A-BF, Alqarawi AA, Abd_Allah EF. A Comprehensive Appraisal of the Wild Food Plants and Food System of Tribal Cultures in the Hindu Kush Mountain Range; a Way Forward for Balancing Human Nutrition and Food Security. Sustainability. 2021; 13(9):5258. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13095258

Chicago/Turabian Style

Abdullah, Abdullah, Shujaul M. Khan, Andrea Pieroni, Aminul Haq, Zahoor U. Haq, Zeeshan Ahmad, Shazia Sakhi, Abeer Hashem, Al-Bandari F. Al-Arjani, Abdulaziz A. Alqarawi, and Elsayed F. Abd_Allah. 2021. "A Comprehensive Appraisal of the Wild Food Plants and Food System of Tribal Cultures in the Hindu Kush Mountain Range; a Way Forward for Balancing Human Nutrition and Food Security" Sustainability 13, no. 9: 5258. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13095258

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