Book title: !Nara. Fruit for development of the !Khuiseb Topnaar
Editors: J. Henschel, R. Dausab, P. Moser, J. Fallen
Publisher: Namibia Scientific Society
Windhoek, Namibia 2004
Softcover, 15x21cm, 168 pages, 22 colour photos
The !Nara (Acanthosicyos horridus) is a leafless, spiny bush that is found only in the Namib Desert. Its melon-like fruit has, for Centimes, been an inseparable part of the culture of the local Topnaar people, who live along the ephemeral !Khuiseb River as subsistence farmers. Recent changes both in the socio-economic conditions of the Topnaar and in fruit production of !Nara prompted the initiation of the NARA programme, jointly coordinated by the Topnaar Community Foundation and the Desert Research Foundation of Namibia. NARA has focused on questions concerning !Nara plant productivity, sustainability, management, and utilisation, both as a food commodity and cash crop. Recent ecological studies described in the text show that access of the roots to groundwater underlying the sandy desert environment is the most decisive requirement for !Nara, and that the plants have surprisingly low efficiency of water use. Jackals and gerbils serve as crucial vectors of seed dispersal, while solitary bees and blister beetles are the most important pollinators. Large herbivores, especially domestic donkeys, often cause considerable damage to !Naras by feeding on flowers, immature fruit and seedlings.