Lumonde Kyebandula Sweet Potato

Ark of taste
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Lumonde Kyebandula

Kyebandula is a local sweet potato with a purplish skin color and purely white inside. Sometimes when it is kept for a long time in the soil, the skin of the tubers turns brownish and develops some elongated scars. This sweet potato cooks slowly, and has a silky appearance when steamed the traditional way in banana leaves. The sweet potatoes serve as a food that can be eaten during travels when steamed and packed in banana leaves. The leaves of the plant are dark green with a purple lining on the sides and sweet to the taste, making them very palatable to caterpillars and other animals, which are the main pests that attack this local variety. There are also localized names given to this variety in different areas. For example, around Mt. Elgon it is called Mbale and Silk while in Central Uganda the Kyebadula is popularly known as Kawogo.

Kyebandula is common in many parts of Uganda, such as Kawogo, Sukaali and Mbaale. For many years it has been used by Gishu and Ganda people as a main source of food and as a gift given to travelers on long journeys, as well as to those embarking on a week-long journey for initiation ceremonies marked by circumcision of teenage males in the community. The potatoes used for travel are preferably roasted over a mild fire. It is also common to roast the potatoes under fire covered with wood ash. This leaves the potatoes clean white inside and it greatly increases the shelf life of the food. This is known as the traditional way of preserving sweet potatoes for future use because the roasted potatoes can be kept for over a week from the date of harvest, making it a common travel food among the people in Elgon Mountains.

The Kyebandula local varieties of sweet potatoes are now extremely difficult to find in the communities, as there has been an extensive research over the past years where local potatoes varieties have been replaced with NASPOT 1-6 (Namulonge Sweet Potatoes from 1 to 6), also known as Orange Fresh Vitamin A Fortified sweet potatoes from Namulonge Agricultural Research Station. There are more NASPOT sweet potato varieties coming from various research stations, replacing the few existing Kyebandula which have long been cultivated and used by local people for personal consumption, but not for commercial sales.

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