Alanga Col Black Bean

Ark of taste
Back to the archive >

The Alanga Col black beans, a variety grown in Northern Uganda, mostly in the Lango subregion, are about the size of a pea, up to 1/2-inch long, with the slightly less-pronounced boat-shape common to kidney beans. They have a satiny black skin. With a rich flavor that has been compared to mushrooms, black beans have a velvety texture while holding their shape well during cooking. These beans date back at least from the 18th century, when they were a staple food in the diets of people from the Lango region in Northern Uganda.

The plant is a bush that grows up to one foot high with several small branches that carry heart-shaped, soft and hairy leaves, and pods. The pods carry about five to seven seeds. They are long and curved ranging from 4 to 6 inches. The young pods are green but turn yellowish and later brown when mature. The dark green leaves, that also turn yellow when the beans have reached maturity, are edible at one and half month, steamed in a local dish called Ebisooboza. Like other bush beans, they have a short maturity period. The stems are small robust and round, and the flowers appear after the rainy seasons and they are usually of a white-bluish color. They are small, elegant and slightly fragrant.

The Alanga Col Black beans can survive in harsh environments of water stress. They grow well in intercrops with maize, and bananas. Care must be taken to minimize the shade during flowering and pod development, because the latter is highly affected by too much shade. In communities found in Lira district, the producers normally thin the maize leaves when it gets too thick during the growth period of the black beans. It is usually planted in July in northern Uganda, and there it takes about 4 months to be ready for harvest.

Among all groups of food commonly eaten in the region, the black beans are said to be one of the most protein rich kind of legume, and they are believed to have medicinal virtues: they are traditionally prepared for women who have just given birth, and it is said that when mothers eat it while they are breast-feeding their child, the black beans help pass on the dark skin color typical of the people from the Lango sub-region. It is used to strengthen bones and give better immunity to children, and sick persons. Traditionally, they are also served during wedding ceremonies in the region, as a symbol of color and originality of the Lango people. Common dishes include katogo, a mix of beans and chopped cassava and shea nut oil (called moya in northern Uganda), and a soup called celomwogo.

Due to the introduction of new, high yielding, improved varieties that can be planted more often unlike the Alanga Col Black Bean which can be planted only once, it is gradually neglected by the farmers

Back to the archive >




Production area:Apala, Adekwok

Other info



Nominated by:John Wanyu