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Plant Resources of Tropical Africa

File:PROTA logo.jpg
The PROTA logo, indicating the regional focus of the Plant Resources of Tropical Africa programme

Plant Resources of Tropical Africa, known by its acronym PROTA, is an international programme concerned with making scientific information about utility plants accessible in Africa, supporting their sustainable use to reduce poverty.

PROTA’s stated mission is to synthesise all the information available for approximately 8,000 plants used in tropical Africa, and make it widely accessible in various media. In other words, PROTA is dedicated to make the lesser-known useful biodiversity of tropical Africa better known. PROTA also intends to promote opportunities for the sustainable use of plants to the public and private sectors, making a difference to the people whose livelihoods depend on plants.

The programme operates through an international network of institutional partners and collaborators of the PROTA Foundation, and has representatives in 20 African countries. Unfortunately, the programme had to stop in 2013 due to fund shortage. The website Prota4U is still active (on a new server), and all the information has been duplicated on PROTA Pl@ntUse.


The PROTA Handbook is an illustrated encyclopaedia of utility plant species found in Tropical Africa. The species reviews contained in each volume are available on CD-ROM, and for free from PROTA online. PROTA plans to publish review articles on some 8,000 plants.<ref>Siemonsma, J. & Omino, E., 2003. PROTA State of the art. Pp. 90-100. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Omino, E.A. Proceedings of the First PROTA International Workshop, 23–25 September 2002, Nairobi, Kenya. Plant Resources of Tropical Africa, Wageningen, the Netherlands.</ref>

The PROTA Handbook is unusual because it is compiled as much from obscure publications as it is from peer-reviewed and popular literature, gathered throughout Africa and Europe. Species review articles are written by authors from around the world, and cover a range of information. A book review of PROTA 3: Dyes and tannins noted that "the information contained in this volume highlights a number of lesser known species, and is a rich source of interesting information for anyone working at the interface of ethnobotany and domestication, and as such is a must have."<ref>Van Damme, P., 2006. Book review - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa 3: Dyes and tannins. Economic Botany 60: 296-306.</ref>


The PROTA web database PROTA4U is a combination of PROTA’s highly standardized expert-validated review articles (PROTAbase) and yet-to-be-validated ‘starter kits’ for all other useful plants. These ‘starter kits’ are pre-filled with basic information from PROTA’s databases SPECIESLIST (important synonyms, uses, basic sources of information) and AFRIREFS (‘grey’ literature).

Furthermore, the records contain the results of a meta-analysis from a large collection of agricultural and botanical databases, conducted successfully in cooperation with the ICON Group International.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> The websites, which allowed their databases to be harvested, are properly acknowledged in the ‘starter kits’.

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