Umwizarahenda is a dark red bean that is cultivated in northern Rwanda, on the border with the DRC. This product is indigenous to the area and is perfectly adapted to the local soil conditions, especially in the volcanic regions. The bean is cultivated during the rainy season.
This variety of bean is one of the main ingredients in the daily meals of Rwandan families. It is highly appreciated for its sweet flavor, and is usually eaten with tubers, like potatoes, sweet potatoes and cassava. The entire plant is consumed, even the leaves. A typical recipe using this bean involves simply boiling two kg of beans for two hours. The leaves, on the other hand, are gathered while they are still tender, are boiled for one hour and then stir-fried with onion and spices. Once they are done cooking the product is eaten with sweet potatoes and, sometimes, with corn pasta.
At times these beans are sold in small quantities, and thus help increase family income. Often, however, the beans are given to newly-wed brides during the Gutekesha ceremony, during which her mother-in-law offers this variety of bean to the new bride, along with a series of pots and pans, thus officially giving her permission to cook.
Today the Umwizarahenda bean variety is at risk because it is often displaced by other more productive varieties and, quite frequently, by large plantations that are cultivated in some cases with varieties containing GMOs.