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Rediscovering Ghana’s Lost Ancient Crops: Bambara Groundnuts

Bambara Groundnuts from Ghana
Bambara Groundnuts from Ghana

Ghana’s lost ancient crops are valuable resources that deserve more attention and support. Cultivated for centuries, these crops are drought-tolerant and nitrogen-fixing that improve soil fertility and crop rotation. They offer many advantages and benefits for food security, nutrition, health, income generation, and environmental sustainability in Ghana and beyond. They also enhance the diversity and identity of Ghanaian cuisine and culture. In this edition dedicated to the lost ancient crops from Ghana, we focus on Bambara groundnuts (Vigna Subterranea).

Bambara groundnut is a grain legume that is native to West Africa and widely cultivated in sub-Saharan Africa and has been cultivated for centuries. Bambara groundnut is a drought-resistant and low-fertility crop that can provide high protein and carbohydrate for food security. In Ghana, Bambara groundnut is mostly grown in the Coastal Savannah, Transition and Guinea Savannah agro-ecologies. These areas have relatively low rainfall compared to the high rainfall areas in the country.

Bambara groundnut is sometimes planted on yam mounds, protecting the mound from erosion. It is also grown in intercropping systems with maize, millet, sorghum, cassava, yam, etc. This crop has a nutty flavor and a crunchy texture. Bambara groundnut can be processed into various food forms, such as eaten raw, roasted, boiled, or ground into flour, and turned into milk, oil and dumplings, and can be used to make soups, stews, sauces, cakes, or beverages. They are rich in carbohydrate, protein and fat. Bambara seeds contain phytochemicals such as flavonoids and tannins, which are more abundant in dark or red-colored seeds.