African nightshades (Solanum nigrum complex): The potential contribution to human nutrition and livelihoods in sub-Saharan Africa.
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Achieving zero hunger in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) without minimizing postharvest losses of agricultural products is impossible. Therefore, a holistic approach is vital to end hunger, simultaneously improving food security, diversity, and livelihoods. This review focuses on the African nightshades (ANS) Solanum spp. contribution to improving food and nutrition security in SSA. Different parts of ANS are utilized as food and medicine; however, pests and diseases hinder ANS utilization. African nightshade is rich in micronutrients such as β-carotene, vitamins C and E, minerals (iron, calcium, and zinc), and dietary fiber. The leaves contain a high amount of nutrients than the berries. Proper utilization of ANS can contribute to ending hidden hunger, mainly in children and pregnant women. Literature shows that ANS contains antinutritional factors such as oxalate, phytate, nitrate, and alkaloids; however, their quantities are low to cause potential health effects. Several improved varieties with high yields, rich in nutrients, and low alkaloids have been developed in SSA. Various processing and preservation techniques such as cooking, drying, and fermentation are feasible techniques for value addition on ANS in SSA; moreover, most societies are yet to adopt them effectively. Furthermore, promoting value addition and commercialization of ANS is of importance and can create more jobs. Therefore, this review provides an overview of ANS production and challenges that hinder their utilization, possible solutions, and future research suggestions. This review concludes that ANS is an essential nutritious leafy vegetable for improving nutrition and livelihoods in SSA.