Fruits That Grow In Africa? Africa’s tropical climate is ideal for growing a diverse range of fruits that grow in Africa. The continent can also claim to have the largest variety of mangoes, as well as the most popular banana in the world, which is grown mainly in Mozambique and Gabon. Some other fruits that grow in Africa are pawpaw, longan, lychee, pineapple, jackfruit and carambola.
10 African Fruits You Need To Try
Embark on an exotic, flavor-fuelled adventure like no other with these African fruits, and experience the star ingredients in some of Africa’s most beloved dishes in their purest, juiciest, and most raw form.
1 – Bitter Kola
Bitter kola is a fruit found primarily in the West and Central African Tropics. It has brown skin that hides a whitish or yellowish flesh beneath. This fruit, as the name suggests, has a sharp, bitter taste. However, it does sweeten as you chew.
Consumed for its medicinal and anti-viral properties in Africa, bitter kola is seen as a very healthy fruit for your body. Many people confuse bitter kola with kola nut, but they are not the same thing.
2 – African Star Apple
This is a West African fruit with a small, round, orange, chewable skin and a whitish sap that surrounds five brown seeds arranged in a star formation, hence the name.
When unripe, the African star apple is green with a tart flavor, but as it matures, it turns orange, sweeter, and less tart.
The African star apple is a superfood, and other names for it include African cherry, Agbalumo, Udara, and Alasa.
To eat this delectable fruit like a local, squeeze open the fruit, suck out the juice, then split the fruit open to reveal the pulp, which you can eat.
African star fruit can be made into jams, fruit juices, syrups, and soft drinks, and the juice can be fermented into wine or distilled into spirits.
3 – Kola Nut
The kola nut is a fruit that has cultural and religious significance in various West African countries. It’s nearly the size of a chestnut and comes in brownish-white, light pink, or dark purple hues. Kola nut has a bitter taste that gradually becomes sweeter as it is chewed.
Surprisingly, this fruit was once used as an additive in the world-famous beverage, Coca-Cola. This fruit’s caffeine content, flavor, and energy-boosting properties have made it a common ingredient in the production of sodas, energy drinks, and other beverages.
Traditionally, this staple is thought to alleviate hunger, fatigue, and aid digestion. Kola nut, with its sweet nut aroma, is commonly enjoyed as is or in beverages.
4 – African Walnut
The African walnut is a seasonal fruit native to Gabon, Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger, the Central African Republic, and other African countries. Kaso, Asala, Ukpa, and Okwe are some of the other names for it.
It is a small, round fruit with a dark brown or black shell that houses a crunchy, tasty cream or milk-colored nut. Because the taste is bitter when eaten raw, it is best cooked, baked, or roasted before being eaten, which helps unleash its earthy, robust flavor.
The shell is easy to crack and must be removed before eating the flesh. Many Africans enjoy this tasty favorite as a snack or something to eat in between meals.
5 – Matoke
Matoke, a banana variety, is a staple in East Africa, particularly Uganda. This variety, also known as green cooking banana, is shorter than regular bananas. It has green skin and white flesh that, when cooked, turns to a luscious yellow hue.
Although the fruit can be consumed when ripe, it is frequently regarded as a waste when consumed raw, as its starchy, slightly sweet flavor allow matoke to play a similar role in African cuisine to that of the potato.
Hence, matoke is also the name of a hugely popular dish, common in many African cuisines. It is a dish of cooked and mashed matojke, served with vegetable stew, meat, and ground peanuts.
6 – Date
Dates are a staple in Sudan, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, Iraq, Libya, and other African countries. Dates come in many varieties, but the two most common in North Africa are the Deglet Noor and the Medjool. It is a sweet stone fruit with an inedible seed and a fleshy outer skin that can be golden yellow or reddish-brown in color.
Date fruit can be eaten in salads or desserts and can be used as a substitute for honey as a sweetener. You can also eat dates both fresh or dried.
Tajine, a Moroccan cuisine delicacy sometimes combined with dates, should not be overlooked, nor should the Nigerian dish of tiger nuts, dates, and coconut. Both are absolutely delicious!
7 – Ackee
This West African pear-shaped fruit has an inedible green (unripe), yellow (ripe), or red (ripe) pod, a cream-colored fleshy seed covering (aril), and three black seeds.
Ackee cannot be consumed while unripe due to its high toxicity level. When the ackee fruit is ripe, it splits open to reveal the seeds.
This delectable fruit is also found in Central Africa. It is high in vitamins and low in calories, making it ideal for a healthy lifestyle. Local names for it include Akee apple, Feso, Otousi, Ankye, and Gwanja kousa.
Ackee can be eaten raw, but its delightfully nutty and slightly sweet taste make it an ideal fruit to cook with meats and other ingredients, or eaten fried.
While native to West Africa, Ackee is also known as the national fruit of Jamaica and prominent in Jamaican cuisine, with the fruit having been imported to Jamaica before 1773.
8 – Plantain
Plantain is a staple in Africa’s Western, Eastern, and Central regions. It looks like a banana, but it’s longer, has more starch, and a thicker skin. Whether the fruit is green (unripe) or yellow (ripe), it is frequently cooked before eating.
Plantain, when unripe, can be fried to make chips or cooked as a meal and eaten with soups. This sweet, wholesome fruit can be boiled, roasted, fried, or ground into flour when mature.
Make sure to try some of the many delicacies made from plantain. Fufu (made from plantain flour), Dodo (fried plantain), Igbekere (plantain chips), Boli (roasted plantain), and other dishes are examples.
9 – African Pear
The African pear, also known as Bush butter fruit, Ube, Atanga, and Safon, can be found in West, Central, and other parts of Africa, including Angola and Uganda. It has pale green flesh and dark blue or violet skin.
This fleshy, luscious fruit is high in nutrients and is commonly used in traditional medicine in Africa, including to treat wounds. It can be consumed raw, cooked in salted water, or roasted, and when cooked has a buttery taste when cooked that’s milder and more balanced than its tangy, acidic flavor when raw.
African pear and roasted or cooked corn in particular is a fantastic combination that many Africans enjoy, and is definitely worth trying.
10 – Tamarind
Tamarind has many different names, including African or black velvet tamarind, Awin, Yoyi, Veludo, and Icheku. It is a seasonal fruit with a black velvet shell and edible, sticky orange pulp, renowned for its sweet-sour flavor.
The fruit grows in West Africa and reaches as far north as Sudan in North Africa. It is frequently used to season dishes and can be consumed raw or soaked in water to make tamarind juice, a popular African drink.
Tamarind contains a lot of fiber, vitamins, and other nutrients, and is known for its low-fat content.
AFRICAN FRUITS (TYPES AND PRODUCTS)
THIS FRUIT IS VERY RARE. São Tomé peach or pessego de São Tomé is a fruit that grows on a small tree (Chytranthus mannii) indigenous to the islands of São Tomé e Príncipe.
The tree grows in the wild, in the archipelago’s humid areas. It takes several years for the tree to bear fruit – the tree can be cultivated, but it is difficult to find a supply of saplings to plant. Due to the fact that the fruits grow on the trunk throughout the year, it makes them accessible to wild animals.
THESE ORANGES ARE AT RISK OF EXTINCTION DUE TO CHANGES IN THE OWNERSHIP STRUCTURE. Rex Union is a South African orange variety grown in the North West region. It is a hybrid between the pomelo and the Seville sour orange. The orange has a dark red, almost blemish-free skin with a thick pith underneath.
The flesh is very juicy and has a sour flavor, which is the reason why Rex Union is traditionally used for the production of marmalade. This orange variety was named after George Wellington Rex, a pioneer of grapefruit in South Africa. Unfortunately, today there is only one orchard containing fewer than 300 trees on Dunedin citrus farm, located in Boschfontein near Rustenburg, but half the trees are quite old and may be near their end.
White star apple or Chrysophyllum albidum is a forest fruit that’s commonly found in tropical Africa. This dark yellowish fruit is usually cultivated in rural areas and is abundant from December to April. If picked from the tree, it’s sour and acidic, but when the fruits fall to the ground, that’s how you know that it’s ripe and sweet.
The name refers to the pulp which surrounds five brown seeds arranged in the shape of a star. Locals split it open by squeezing, which exposes the pulp. The pulp is eaten as it is by chewing it slowly after the milky, sticky juice has dripped away.
The juice is sometimes even fermented into wine or distilled into spirits.
For 3,000 years, the farmers of Siwa Oasis in the Western Egyptian desert have been taking advantage of water in the desert in order to grow chewy Siwa Oasis dates. Three of the most important varieties are Siwi, Azzawi, and Frehi, but there are three more varieties which are produced in small quantities and are at risk of extinction – Ghazaal, Takdat, and Amnzou.
The producers sell both fresh and dried dates. After the initial 10 years, each plant produces about 50 kilograms of these chewy treats per year. The maturation period of each type varies – Amnzou bears fruit in September, Azzawi and Siwi at the beginning of October, Ghazaal at the end of October, and Takdat between December and January.
Matoke is a banana variety that is indigenous to Uganda. They are shorter than regular bananas and are somewhat thicker at the mid section as a result. Due to the high starch content, the flesh of unripe matoke bananas is especially hard, so they need to be boiled, steamed, or roasted before consumption.
If the bananas are fully ripe, they can be consumed as normal fruit, but it is considered a waste since matoke is known as a green cooking banana. These bananas are typically mashed and paired with vegetable sauces, ground peanuts, or meat such as beef and goat, and the full dish is then also called matoke or matooke.
Native to Algeria, deglet nour is one of the most common date varieties consumed in the entire North African region. They are small in size, amber in color, and characterized by the nearly translucent meat and a sweet, nutty, and caramel-like flavor.
Except in North Africa, they are cultivated in Israel and the United States, where they had been exported at the beginning of the 20th century. Even though they can be eaten plain as a sweet snack accompanied by tea or coffee, deglet nour are often incorporated in many traditional North African salads, pastries, and cookies.
Tropical fruits – Africa’s real diamonds are not hidden in the ground; they’re hanging in the trees!
How huge is the potential for the fruit farming and export business in Africa? You’re about to find out…
As millions of people around the world look for healthier and organic foods, fruits are growing in demand both locally and globally.
Apart from the millions of fruits that we eat at home in Africa, many of us do not notice the huge volumes of bananas, pineapples, mangoes and several other tropical fruit varieties that are shipped to Europe, the Middle East and USA every week!
Africa has a unique advantage to profit from this very lucrative market for tropical fruits which grow abundantly on our continent.
This article explores the tropical fruit business and looks at a couple of successful entrepreneurs who are already exploiting the potentials of the fruit production business in Africa. I have also included very detailed manuals that reveal all the technical details of starting and succeeding in fruit farming…
Why is the market potential for tropical fruits huge for Africa?
In line with our tradition on Smallstarter, it’s important to us that our readers understand the market forces and economic opportunities behind every business opportunity we share.
My research has identified three strong reasons why Africa’s future in the tropical fruits business is shining very bright.
Here they are…
1. Africa has a strong geographic advantage
More than 70 percent of fruits consumed on earth come from the tropics, which is why they’re called ‘tropical fruits’.
A very large portion of our dear continent is located in the tropics – a region that enjoys all-year-round sunlight and has a perfect climate for fruits to thrive and grow abundantly.
As a result, Africa remains one of the world’s largest producers of some of the most popular fruits on the planet – citrus, pineapples, bananas and many others.
Despite our continent’s huge potential to produce fruits for the world, a lot of fruits grown in many African countries are consumed locally.
Because fruits are highly perishable (spoil very quickly) and many farmers have little access to good storage facilities, Africa currently exports less than 5 percent of the fruits it produces every year.
As you will read much later in this article, there are signs of positive change as some entrepreneurs are already making the best of this bad situation.
2. A growing demand for healthier and organic foods
Due to the revelations by modern science about the health benefits of eating fruits and vegetables, millions of people around the world (especially in developed countries) now include some form of fruit in their daily diets.
Apart from their rich nutrient, mineral and vitamin content, fruits are now known to lower blood pressure; reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and probably some cancers; and help to lower the risk of eye and digestive system problems.
The growing consciousness in Western countries to adopt fruit-rich diets is one of the major drivers of the growing demand for tropical fruits which are abundant in Africa. As a result, countries like Ghana, South Africa, Ivory Coast and Kenya earn millions of dollars every year from fruit exports to Europe, the Middle East and USA.
According to the World Health Organisation, millions of people around the world still die prematurely from diseases associated with low fruit consumption. While this is sad, it signals a promising and lucrative growth in the demand for African tropical fruits now and in the future as more people add fruits to their diets.
3. A rapidly growing fruit juice industry
Did you know that each year, Nigeria alone imports orange concentrates worth over US$140 million for local fruit juice production? The global market for fruit and vegetable juices is growing fast and is forecast to exceed 70 billion liters by the year 2017.
This rapid growth is driven by a rising preference by customers for healthy drinks (like fruit juices) over soft drinks (such as carbonated drinks – like Coke and Pepsi). There is also a rising demand for organic, super fruit and 100 percent natural fruit juices without any sweeteners and preservatives.
This means that in the very near future, producers will require more raw fruits to make a glass of juice.
As more manufacturers shop for fruits to produce more juice to serve the growing demand, Africa will become a huge supplier due to the abundance of fruits that grow on the continent. This added demand from fruit juice manufacturers is allowing farmers across Africa to process their harvested fruits into less perishable concentrates thereby reducing spoilage and earning them more money.
In the Mango section of this article, there is an interesting story (and a short video) about a Sierra-Leone based company that buys raw mangoes from the local community and converts it to concentrates used to make fruit juice. Make sure you look out for it…