The following are the complete list of the most important crops that are indigenous to Africa along with their common names and botanical names and where they originated from.
But first, let me try to explain briefly about the indigenous crops of Africa. During the colonial era, the process of discarding indigenous crops gained further momentum, as the official focus shifted to those familiar crops of mercantile interest, such as cane, chocolate, coffee, cotton, and other durable, transportable, and valuable crops of that sort.
Indeed, during those times subsistence crops were almost entirely neglected in organized agriculture, while valuable exportable cash crops were cultured, harvested, graded, and protected against rodents, insects, and decay with exceptional efficiency and dispatch.
And an end result of these historical trends was that most of Africa’s food these days comes from a mere 20 or so species, almost all of foreign extraction.
With that being pointed out, now let us return to the complete list of indigenous crops of Africa below:
Common Name Cereals Botanical Name
Bulrushmillet ———————————– Pennisetumtyphoides
Guineacorn ———————————– Sorghum bicolor
Fingermillet ———————————– Eleusinecoracana
Rice ———————————– Oryzaglaberrima
Hungaryrice ———————————– Digitaria exillis
Cowpea ——————————— Vignaunguiculata
Pigeonpea ——————————— Cajanus cajan
Oilpalm —————————– Elaeis guineensis
Nigerseeds —————————– Guizotia abyssinica
Castor —————————– Ricinuscommunis
Bambaragroundnut —————————– Voandzeia
Sheabutter —————————— Butyrospermum
Whiteguinea yam —————————– Dioscorea rotundata
Yellow guinea yam —————————— Dioscorea cayenensis
Read Also: The History and Spread of Cultivated Crops
Cotton —————————— Gossypiumherbaceum
Kenaf —————————— Hibiscuscannabinus
Bow-stringhemp —————————— Sansevieria spp.
Kapok —————————— Pentandravar. caribea
liberica —————————— Coffeaarabica, Coffea
KolanutsGbanja Kola ————————— Cola nitida
AbataKola ————————— Cola acuminata
Water melon ——————————– Citrullus lanatus
Like grains and fruits, Africa’s ancient vegetables were vulnerable to the sweep of these events. Long ago, hundreds of leaves, roots, tubers, corms, rhizomes, bulbs, seeds, buds, shoots, stems, pods, or flowers were eaten.
Yet across Africa today the main vegetables are crops such as sweet potato, cooking banana (plantain), cassava, peanut, common bean, peppers, eggplant, and cucumber.
Countries in the elevated central regions like Burundi, Rwanda, Ethiopia, and Kenya grow potato. Banana dominates Rwanda, and Ethiopia also relies on chickpea and lentil.
Meanwhile, South Africa records its leading vegetable crops as potato, tomato, green mealies (maize), sweet corn, onion, pumpkin, carrot, cabbage, lettuce, and beetroot.
When compared with the ancient stock of modern crops, these traditional African food crops remaining outside the fold of science have not been rejected because of any inherent inferiority. Therefore, it is time to open minds to the power and promise of this indigenous edible wealth.