The Complete List of Indigenous Crops of Africa

The Complete List of Indigenous Crops of Africa

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


The Complete List of Indigenous Crops of Africa


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

Related: Effects of Altitude and Soil Condition on Animal Production

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.

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