Knowledge and utilization of edible mushrooms by local populations of the rain forest of South Cameroon

Dijk, J.F.W. van; Onguene, N.A.; Kuyper, T.W.


Indigenous knowledge of edible fungi and their utilization by local populations were investigated in southern Cameroon from 1996 to 1999. Some 100 participants from the major ethnic groups, comprising Bantu farmers and Bagyeli (Pygmy) hunter-gatherers, were interviewed. Mushroom usage by 30 families, (319 persons), was monitored daily for over a year. Mushroom knowledge among both groups was extensive. Over 50 vernacular names were provided by respondents. In Bantu households, women and children, and to some extent hunters, harvest mushrooms. In contrast, the whole Bagyeli household participates. Bantu harvest mushrooms preferentially in secondary forests while Bagyeli collect them predominantly in primary forests. Mushroom consumption is low for both groups, 1.1 and 1.4 kg of fresh mushrooms per person per year, respectively, a rate that is much lower than in central and eastern Africa. The apparent discrepancy between extensive mushroom knowledge and rather infrequent mushroom consumption probably relates to the social valuation of mushrooms.