Muhogo, Kabanda Meno
Kitwa is a cassava variety with brownish skin that is also known as muhogo in Kiswahili or kabanda meno (a name that means that the raw tuber is hard on the teeth) among the Giriama community. It grows in the poor sandy soils of the Nziu district of Makueni County in central southern Kenya, as well as in the Kilifi district of southeastern Kenya. This variety is normally sweeter than other varieties, but has a tight skin that must be peeled slowly and with care. It is less sweet and takes on a sour flavor when grown in more fertile soils. The fresh cassava is used to make kachiri or crisps that are preferred to the potato versions sold in supermarkets. These are especially eaten around Christmas time. In other areas, it is cooked and mashed together with maize and pigeon peas to make a meal favored by children and the elderly. Dried kitwa can be ground into flour and used in baking bread, cakes, biscuits, chapatti and ugali. The flour can also be used to starch clothing. Unlike other cassava varieties, kitwa stems are easily attacked by powdery mildew, reducing the yield. Kitwa is, however, a drought-resistant crop that is planted during the long rains from October to December and is harvested from April onwards. It can be an annual or perennial plant (if all the roots are not removed at the same time, to maintain the life of the plant, which grows to a short shrub). The crop can also do well in a food forest. Kitwa is mostly grown for home consumption, but some producers sell the tubers and the cassava crisps on the market. Because of its lack of resistance to powdery mildew, only a few farmers still specialize in planting this variety. Many of these growers are older, and unless the seeds and the crop management knowledge are passed to younger generations, it may soon be lost.