I am an MSc student in the Plant and Forest Biotechnology program at the University of Umeå, and doing my MSc research under supervision of Sarina Veldman and Hugo de Boer, on mapping harvesting and trade in Zambian edible orchids. This project is a collaboration with Ruth Bone at RBG Kew
Chikanda, also well known as African Polony, is meatless sausage, and a favorite delicacy in Zambia. It is made of tubers from wild harvested terrestrial orchids from the genera Disa, Satyrium, Habenaria. The popularity of Chikanda has grown dramatically over the last decades and this Chikanda 'fever' threatens populations of many orchid species. The unsustainable utilization of these species is now being taken beyond the borders of Zambia and illegally harvested tubers from Tanzania, Angola, and DR Congo are being smuggled into Zambia. Because the orchids are all sold as tubers, it is very difficult to identify the species traded in the market by morphology, even for experts, which in turn makes it difficult to pinpoint those species and areas that are most affected. In my MSc project I try to map harvesting and trade in Zambian edible orchids in the Lusaka and Kitwe region using molecular identification techniques utilizing DNA barcoding and Next Generation Sequencing, and also conducting numerous interviews with Chikanda marketers.
Tags: Botany , Disa , Habenaria , Biodiversity , Satyrium , DNA barcoding , Metabarcoding , Economic botany , Ethnobotany , Molecular identification , Ion-Torrent PGM , Medicinal plants , Molecular taxonomy , CITES , TRAFFIC , Edible Orchids , Chikanda