Nkuluza Potato

Ark of taste
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Potatoes (Solanum tuberosum) were introduced to Uganda in the late 19th or early 20th century. They are grown for both subsistence and commercial purposes, consumed as a vegetable or a staple, and often referred to as Irish potatoes, to distinguish them from sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas). The highlands of the Kabale and Kisoro districts, in southwestern Uganda, are particularly suited to potato cultivation.

The Nkuluza variety was introduced in the Kabale District in 1923. The plant is relatively tall, it can grow up to more than 1 meter. The tuber is medium sized and is shaped like an eggplant. The stem of the plant is purple to black, the leaves are green and turn purple when it is time to harvest, usually from June to December, and the plant falls down and covers the field. The tuber often has other small tubers attached to it.
This variety, along with sweet potatoes, has a long shelf life even once roasted, which is why it was traditionally carried as food for long journeys, such as the way to Kampala which in the past could take several weeks. Since it can last over one month once roasted, it was a special food also for hunting trips: Indeed women would prepare some Nkuluza for the men before they left to hunt. It was also roasted for traditional ceremonies, and for church.
When roasted, the tuber’s color is yellow, but when it is cooked (boiled for example), it turns purple. It has a sweet taste but if exposed too long in the sun it can turn sour. This type of Irish potato is mostly roasted but it can make good chips (French fries) or crisps. It is a very nutritious variety.

This variety, like the other traditional Kabale Irish potatoes varieties, is threatened by the introduction of improved high yielding varieties that require chemical inputs. It has been neglected because it is less yielding than the new varieties, less appealing due to its color, and because of its long gestation period (4 to 5 months) and the fact that it needs space to grow, in a region where the land is often fragmented.

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Vegetables and vegetable preserves

Nominated by:John Wanyu