Africa is endowed with fertile lands, good tropical climates that support growing seasons and a wide diversity of indigenous fruits, crops, vegetables and an ever-growing population that provides the marketplace for Agric businesses. Little wonder the economy has been inherently dependent on agriculture from way back.
In Africa, farming is the primary source of food and income as it accounts for 60 percent of the agricultural jobs in the continent.
What most people do not know is that a great number of the food crops in existence today was first cultivated in Africa.
According to the National Geographic, many of the African fruits, vegetables, and legumes popular in the United States today, came in from Africa through the Atlantic Slave trade.
Africa is a blessed continent and if we don’t celebrate our own products, who will?
What Fruits and Crops Are Native To Africa?
African Palm Fruit:
This is an oil palm fruit native to West Africa. According to Answers Africa, the species of palm tree Elaeis guineensis was taken to Malaysia from Eastern Nigeria in 1961. This explains why the southern coast of Nigeria was originally called the Palm oil coast by the earliest Europeans who visited the country for trade.
The palm oil extract gotten from this African fruit is popularly known as red oil and can be used to make diverse varieties of dishes. The kernels or palm fruits can also be cracked with a stone and its content consumed raw or with garri. It makes for a quick and tasty meal.
This is a brewed drink with its roots traced down to tropical Africa, specifically Ethiopia and Sudan because of the genus Coffea. The Coffea is a genus of flowering plants with seeds (popularly known as coffee beans) which are roasted to make the coffee drink and other products. Year after year, coffee has become one of the most important commercial crops grown and exported out of Africa.
Also known as black-eyed peas, this legume is one of the oldest crops to originate from Africa. Its origin can be traced to Southern Africa. It is planted annually and can be used as food for humans and animals. So far, more than 5.2 million tons of dried cowpeas produced worldwide is from Africa.
This is a cereal grain plant believed to have been cultivated first in Africa in 3000 bc. It is a native African crop. It belongs to the class of the top five cereal grain alongside maize, rice, wheat, and barley. Its varieties include grain sorghum, grass sorghum, and broomcorn. It can be used to produce edible products for human consumption and used in the production of ethyl alcohol for biofuel.
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This is a drought-resistant plant indigenous to tropical and Southern Africa. This green leafy plant, also known as “African Cabbage” is considered a native food crop because it was first cultivated in Africa. It is a weed to some farmers but highly nutritious and contributes to a healthy diet in many Africa rural homes with limited food budget. This plant is rich in protein, vitamins and amino acids.
This is a popular staple food crop native to Africa and Asia. It is cultivated, processed and can be prepared into amazing dishes such as pounded yam, Yamarita, Elubo or eaten as boiled, roasted or fried Yam with fried eggs or tomato sauce. This food crop is a primary agricultural food crop in Africa. It is known for its high content of starch and a great source of carbohydrate.
According to Everyday Mysteries, there are over 600 varieties and 95% of these crops are grown in Africa. Little wonder why there is a popular festival known as the new yam festival.
This tops the list of African fruits and vegetables. It is a fruit crop native to the Kalahari Desert of Africa. According to Watermelon Board, the first watermelon harvest occurred nearly 5000 years ago in Egypt and depicted in Egyptian hieroglyphics on walls of their ancient buildings.
It is a very juicy fruit with a hard green colored back and juicy red flesh with little black seeds inside (although not all varieties of watermelon are without seeds). It is 92% water, a great source of vitamins, highly nutritious and can be eaten raw or pickled, the seeds inclusive.
This is a highly coveted wild fruit indigenous to Africa. Monkey orange is traditionally eaten raw or made into wine, juice or jam. It belongs to the class of grapefruits, pears, and oranges.
It is an important fruit to most rural villages in Africa as it comes in handy in the case of drought or crop failure. The trees of this African fruit can serve as shade because of its wide leaves and as a protection for erosions.
This is a food crop native to West Africa. Okra seeds were brought to the colonies by enslaved Africans. In the words of Jessica Harris, an American Culinary historian in an essay about Okra, she wrote: “Wherever okra points its green tip, Africa has been there,”. That’s how deep-rooted it is to Africans.
The content of this food crop is slimy and can be diced and made into delicious dishes such as the Seafood Okra or added to a salad. It contains water, protein, carbohydrates and fat. It is also rich in dietary fiber, vitamins etc. This African food crop is best cultivated in tropical and warm temperate regions around the world.
Fun Fact; It is also known as “lady fingers” Don’t ask me why…. 🙂
This is a popular African food crop known for its bitter flavored taste but healthy content. It is a mild stimulant native to Africa, i.e. West Africa to be precise.
It contains a high amount of caffeine, hence used as a flavoring ingredient in beverages. It gave birth to the term “cola” according to Wikipedia. In Nigeria, it is often used ceremoniously especially during traditional meetings and weddings where it is presented to the elders and guests present.
From promoting our agricultural heritage and growing food in our own backyard to sponsoring more farms and even sharing this article with our friends, we all have a part to play in the growth of agriculture in Africa.
Thanks for reading.