Tiger nuts (atadwe), are we doing enough?

Tiger nuts affectionately called atadwe is very popular and every Ghanaian knows it, well if you don’t you will, by the end of this post. Tiger-nuts are very popular among Ghanaian men due to their perceived property as a sexual stimulant. Now I have an issue with this notion, I consider this rather myopic view of the many health benefits of Atadwe, sad. Read about the many health benefits of Atadwe here. I honestly believe we have failed as a country to effectively utilize the many health and economic benefits of the tasty Atadwe. Our achievements from tiger nuts are almost equivalent to nothing.

My fascination with Atadwe started about a year ago, since then I have dedicated a good amount of time and resources to research about it. Atadwe (tiger – nuts) is actually not a nut but a small tuber that goes by the botanical name, Cyperus Esculentus (now that’s a mouthful).  Tiger nuts were first discovered 4000 years ago and come in several sizes and varieties. I have personally seen two main varieties in Ghana; the black and the yellow nuts. Atadwe is grown in semi-commercial quantities in various parts of the country. The popular cultivation areas are small farming settlements in the Kwahu area. Buoyem, a farming community near Techiman in the Brong Ahafo region used to be a cultivation hub. Farmers have since shunned cultivation of Atadwe to produce more economically viable crops like maize and cassava.

Atadwe is also cultivated in some parts of the three northern regions. I personally source my nuts from the Upper East region where I am assured of a constant monthly supply. The principal buyers of Atadwe are street vendors who hawk them in traffic and market women. Recently there has been the emergence of some Chinese companies, buying the Atadwe in large quantities. This has resulted in a spike in the price of Atadwe on the market.

I honestly believe Atadwe can earn the country a lot of money if it is developed for export. Atadwe can be exported in its raw or refined state. Ever heard of tiger nut flour? No? Well, there is. This is rich gluten-free flour that has a wide range of applications. Read about tiger nut flour here.

I find how Atadwe is packaged and sold locally very disheartening. We can have Atadwe in the supermarkets in nice colourful, branded sachets. The same applies to Atadwe flour. Ghana is losing out on a lot of potential income. Atadwe cultivation for domestic consumption and export purposes can help create a lot of much-needed jobs in the country.

All is not lost, I have noticed the emergence of multiple tiger nut based beverages on the Ghanaian market. These are locally produced. I think we can do a lot more. Research institutes like CSRI can r look into the commercial cultivation of Atadwe and help develop products from Atadwe like baby food, cereals, flour, biscuits, simply put the possibilities are endless. Below is a picture of my product.

tiger nut juice by juicehene

The government can also roll out a cultivation program to help with cultivation. The Ministry of Agriculture could provide seeds and training for individuals who would like to go into the cultivation of Atadwe.  Do you think we have a chance? Leave me a comment let me know what you think.

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