Explore and Understand Africa Through Her Food and Culture

He who wants to plant corn must make peace with the crows. -African Proverb

Saturday, October 1, 2016

What is a Cocoyam?

Where yam is King of crops, African cocoyams are often associated with peasant crops; cocoyam is considered a poor man’s crop or a woman’s crop.



What is a Cocoyam?


Cocoyam have several plant varieties, some with edible tubers and others with edible stems. Cocoyam or Taro plants are a traditional woman's staple root crop in many countries in Africa. 
Making a pounded cocoyam fufu recipe in Central Africa
Making a pounded cocoyam fufu recipe in
Central Africa
Joseph Onyeka with at the National Root Crops Research Institute states “Farmers depend on cocoyam as a major staple food during critical periods such as conflict, famine and natural disasters.” 
The Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) says “In West and Central Africa cocoyam is often associated with low income and socio-economic status, and its production system is largely an informal activity. 
As a result, cocoyam is usually considered a poor man’s crop, or a woman’s crop, as most producers are female. In Ghana, a woman who does not have a cocoyam farm might as well be a non-farmer, Onyeka stated. Following an old eastern Nigerian tradition, female farmers normally have cocoyam farms that their sons-in-law are expected to help with cultivating. 
Cocoyam Leaves
Cocoyam farm
Women are the cultivators of cocoyam farming in most African countries, thus improving cocoyam production should have a direct impact on the most economically vulnerable groups.”

Women cocoyam farmers play an important role in farming for daily food and income for their families, especially in Nigeria which is one of the largest producers of cocoyam in the world contributing about 40% of total annual production. 

Cocoyam is most commonly grown for its starchy edible roots and for its corm or bulbs which are eaten boiled, sautéed, fried and processed into chips called achicha. The tubers are also used to make flour. The leaves of the plant are also appetizing and eaten as a leafy vegetable after cooking. 



Ofe Onugbu Cocoyam Vegetable Soup Recipe


Ingredients:
African cocoyam vegetable soup
African cocoyam vegetable soup
1 large cocoyam root peeled and diced
3 large tomatoes, diced
2 handfuls bitter leaf or kale
2 medium chopped onions
1 medium chopped red bell pepper
1 medium chopped green bell pepper
1 teaspoon allspice
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon tamarind paste
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 cups vegetable stock

Directions:

Add all ingredients to a large pot, simmer until thick 25 minutes. Serve warm with rice.


Did you know?
Cocoyam, if eaten raw, the calcium oxalate crystals causes a stinging feeling to the mouth and throat; cocoyam must be cooked before being eaten. 

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