Manyanya Tuber

Ark of taste
Back to the archive >

Manyanya is a climbing plant with broad, soft leaves and a tuberous root that is eaten as a vegetable. The tubers resemble a cassava with a hairy skin on the outside, but their flesh is more reminiscent of white potatoes. It is claimed that the flavor is superior to that of white potatoes. The plant is ready for harvest when its leaves become dry, between August and October, before the rains. It is found mainly in drier regions of Zimbabwe, such as Mutoko, Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe and Mount Darwin. A single plant can produce up to 5 kg of tubers.   Manyanya was historically the staple food of the Shona and Korekore people. The tubers were often eaten along with a small local grain called sadza. It was regularly eaten as part of important events and on special days. While it is believed that manyanya could be relatively easily domesticated, today it is still harvested from the wild. It is a plant very well adapted to dry regions with low amounts of rainfall. Because it is not cultivated, no records are kept on how much is harvested annually. Manyanya is not found sold on the market, but is harvested for personal consumption.     While many people recall eating manyanya cooked by their elder relatives, a majority of the younger generation does not continue to harvest or use this vegetable today. Local foods are not highly promoted, and the area in which the wild plant grows is being destroyed by fires and the clearing of the land for development. Manyanya also a food source for other animals, who damage the plants in search of the tubers. It is feared that if the plant is not intentionally cultivated, the wild source, and, therefore, the culinary tradition of cooking with manyanya, may be lost for good in the near future. Cultivated tubers could also provide local people with a source of income and food security in the dry climate.

Back to the archive >



Mashonaland Central

Other info


Vegetables and vegetable preserves

Indigenous community:Shona and Korekore
Nominated by:Angela Muranganwa