Anchote Coccinia abyssinica is an indigenous tuber crop of the Ethiopian Highlands. It is popular in the western Oromia Region of the country. Apart from food, the crop is also used in traditional medicine. Anchote tubers possess two variations in its tissue colour, red and white. In this study, a small market survey and a nutritional comparison of red and white anchote were conducted.

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Box Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; moc. Anchote Coccinia abyssinica is an indigenous tuber crop of the Ethiopian Highlands. It is popular in the western Oromia Region of the country. Apart from food, the crop is also used in traditional medicine.

Anchote tubers possess two variations in its tissue colour, red and white. In this study, a small market survey and a nutritional comparison of red and white anchote were conducted. White tissue anchote seems to be more popular, due to its soft texture and ease of cooking.

However, the red variant was considered for flour making by dehydration , for use in porridge and soups for various medicinal and supplementary food applications. Red anchote tubers contained significantly higher protein content However, apart from the marginally higher protein content compared to other tropical root and tuber crops, anchote seems to remain a primary source of carbohydrates.

Further research on vitamin content especially vitamin A in the red variant would be useful to understand the full nutrition potential of the crop. Ethiopia is a biodiversity hotspot, thanks to its highly diversified climate and edaphic conditions. The indigeneity is particularly high on the highlands of southwestern and western regions. Coffee Coffea arabica , safflower Carthamus tinctorius , tef Eragrostis tef , noug Guizotia abyssinica , and enset Ensete ventricosum are some of the examples of crops which have originated in Ethiopia.

Apart from cereals and pulses, Ethiopian agroecosystems are highly suitable for the production of high-quality roots and tubers. Getahun [ 2 ] listed about 30 edible starchy root and tuber crops from Ethiopia. Coccinia abyssinica Lam. Cultivation of anchote is particularly widespread in the western and southwestern regions of the country, at varying elevations of — m with an annual rainfall of — mm [ 3 , 4 ].

Anchote is the only plant in the Cucurbitaceae family which is known to produce edible starchy tubers [ 5 , 6 ]. Culturally, in Oromia region, women are responsible for the breeding, cultivation, harvesting, and processing of the crop [ 7 , 8 ]. Anchote is not only grown for home consumption, but also for sale; apart from tubers as food, anchote seeds and seedlings for propagation are some of the items which are marketed.

The simplest preparation of anchote is boiling the harvested tubers and peeling them, before eating with some salt and ground pepper. Other more complex preparations involve the addition of many spices and butter, made into a paste and eaten alone or with local bread [ 3 , 9 ]. Anchote produces one or two tubers per plant on average, and stems are vines which can grow up to 2 m in height [ 7 ].

Regarding genetic diversity, the crop has been found to be highly diversified in its characteristic tuber length, diameter, and yield per plant [ 4 , 5 , 10 ]. Based on the underlying tissue colours, two anchote accessions are well known among the farmers, locally called in the Oromo language as dimma red or deep orange and addi white [ 3 , 11 ]. From the outside, both types look similar, and the only way to discover the tissue colour red or white is to remove the corky skin.

Despite limited research on anchote, certain recent studies have presented its nutritional and anti-nutritional factors [ 6 , 12 , 13 ].

However, in all these publications there is no mention of the tissue colour. Anecdotal evidence suggests that red tissue anchote is more valued among the local population for its medicinal properties. In the Oromo region especially in the Wellega zone soups and juice made of red anchote are frequently recommended to individuals suffering from fractures and displaced joints, as well as to lactating mothers [ 2 , 3 , 9 ]. The objective of this paper was to make a comparison of the macro-nutritional composition for red and white anchote accessions, to verify the anecdotal hypothesis that red accessions are more nutritious, and to present a potential of the crop as a functional and supplementary food.

Apart from that, a short survey among various value chain actors was conducted to understand the involved actors, the cooking process, what all kind of anchote dishes are available in the market and what the various medicinal uses of the tuberous crop are.

A short survey of the fresh anchote market, farmers visiting to sell their products at the market , and local restaurants which serve various anchote-based dishes was conducted in Nekemte, Oromia, Ethiopia the location is presented in Figure 2. In total, about three farmers, seven anchote chefs, and two retailers who sell processed anchote flour for medicinal purposes were interviewed using a semi-structured questionnaire.

Study site Nekemte Coordinates: 9. Fifteen tubers five tubers per replica of each anchote tuber accession red and white were collected randomly from a one-day-old harvest at a local vegetable market in Nekemte and a neighbouring town Negassa.

Red and white parenchyma tissues of anchote are illustrated in Figure 3. It is hard to distinguish red and white tissue anchote from its external appearance; hence a small portion of the corky skin was removed to identify underlying red and white parenchyma tissue visually. However, in most cases, the tubers which have been transported to retail market have skinning injuries and small bruises due to improper packaging and handling which makes it easier to select the two colour accessions.

To some degree, International Potato Center CIP guidelines [ 14 , 15 ] for sample collection and preparation were followed, which involved first washing the tubers with tap water to remove all soil residues and then rinsing with distilled before drying the unpeeled tubers with a clean paper towel.

Tubers were peeled with a high-grade stainless steel handheld peeler, and were again washed with distilled water and dried using a paper towel before they were sliced using a high-grade stainless steel knife. The dried samples were milled using a stainless steel mill and packed and stored at room temperature into sealed plastic bags for proximate and mineral analysis.

Red left and white right colour parenchyma tissue of anchote after peeling. Picture by Aditya Parmar. Later on, the data was recalculated on the g raw fresh basis to compare with other common tropical root and tuber crops. The moisture content MC was determined by the hot air oven method as described by Fat content was determined using the Soxhlet extraction with hexane according to method number The method Method number Microwave digestion g dry plant material using conc.

Statistical significance was determined by using a Microsoft Excel t-Test of the paired two sample for means. Anchote is a high-value crop; the retail price at Nekemte local vegetable market of the tuber was 4—5 times greater than other tropical root and tuber crops such as taro and sweet potato.

Supply of the anchote remains continuous in all seasons in dry season plantation, irrigation is used due to its high demand from restaurants. Anchote chefs and retailers stated that the white tissue anchote is preferred over red tissue due to its soft texture and ease of cooking. Locals believe that the red anchote has higher medicinal values. In general, anchote tubers are hard and take a longer time to cook, when compared to other tropical starchy tubers such as cassava Manihot esculenta Crantz and sweet potato Ipomoea batatas L.

One of the respondents a well-known anchote chef in Nekemte and owner of Irsha Seble Cafe and Restaurant, Age Mengistu mentioned that a significant amount of fuel wood is required to cook anchote dishes and cooking can take as long as 3 h.

In Ethiopia, anchote is associated with traditions of the Oromo tribe. Various anchote dishes are prepared for ceremonies wedding, birthdays and festivals Meskel traditional Ethiopian festival , New Year in Oromia Region land of the Oromo people. A typical retail display of anchote tuber and the most common preparation are presented in Figure 4. Display of anchote tuber with other crops at a local vegetable market in Nekemte left , and a typical anchote dish namely special anchote , with butter, Jogurt, and Injera local bread right.

In total, there may be more than 27 different types of dishes which can be prepared from the anchote tuber. However, there are four broad categories, which are as follows: soups, boiled anchote, dehydrated anchote flour , and anchote dishes main courses. Soups and dehydrated anchote prepared in the form of porridge with milk and salt is mostly used as food for children, the elderly, and lactating mothers.

The soups and dehydrated anchote flour are more commonly prepared from red tissue anchote due to its believed higher medicinal properties. In local traditional medicines, the anchote in the form of soups and porridges red tissue tuber is considered for people suffering from bone related problems fractures, displaced joints , as well as pregnant women and lactating mothers. The proximate analysis suggests that anchote tubers have a marginally higher protein content than other common root and tuber crops in the region such as cassava and sweet potato.

Anecdotal evidence during the market survey suggested that anchote chefs and processors try to label the crop as a rich source of protein. Hora [ 3 ] also mentioned that anchote could contribute a significant amount of protein in rural diets. Limited information is available on the amino acid composition and protein quality of the anchote tuber.

Only recently in December , Ayalew et al. The essential amino acids for the tuber varied from The result from this study further added that arginine was the highest and methionine was of the lowest concentration with 6. However, Ayalew et al. Proximate composition value per g raw, peeled, unprepared, edible portion of red and white Coccinia abyssinica and a comparison with cassava and sweet potato.

The proximate composition suggests that on a macro nutrient level, anchote remains a source of carbohydrates like other starchy root and tuber crops. The white tissue anchote contains The higher energy values for the white accession could be due to the presence of a higher level of starch content.

Lower dry matter content may result in a lower shelf-life of the red accession. The results presented in Table 1 more or less correspond to the values provided by Hora [ 3 ], who mentioned water, protein, fat, fibre, and carbohydrate content of 74, 4. In a recent study by Aga and Badada [ 13 ], the protein and carbohydrate content of the whole anchote was reported as 3.

However, Hora [ 3 ] and Aga and Badada [ 13 ] did not specify the tissue colour of the anchote used for analysis; hence, it is not possible to provide a comparison of red and white accessions.

Ca content is perhaps the most highlighted mineral constituent of the anchote. The richness in Ca is mentioned in many nutritional analyses which were conducted on the crop [ 3 , 6 , 12 , 13 ].

However, when the calculations were made for raw, peeled, unprepared anchote Table 2 , the white anchote seemed to be a richer source of Ca because of the higher dry matter presence. The Ca content of anchote is also associated to its hearsay medicinal properties to provide speedy recovery in bone fractures and displaced joints. Minerals available in g raw, peeled, unprepared, edible portion of red and white Coccinia abyssinica , and comparison with cassava and sweet potato.

The Ca content of anchote is five to three times higher than that of cassava and sweet potato, which does make it an important source of plant-based Ca for the local population.

In a g portion of raw, unprepared anchote, the P content is two to three times greater than that of sweet potato and cassava. Apart from that, anchote is a moderate supplier of micro minerals such as Cu and Zn. In a dry matter sample, the Fe content of red and white anchote tubers was 4. In comparison to cassava, anchote presents a three times higher Fe content.

Anchote is a popular tuberous crop in the western Oromia region especially in the Wellega zone. The crop holds a good regard in the area due to it close traditional ties with the Oromo people.

In the present study, it was found that white tissue anchote was a regular daily food, served in various cooked forms in restaurants and homes, whereas red tissue anchote was considered appropriate for food supplementation for lactating mothers, children, and the elderly.

Perhaps this may be due to the presence of a higher protein content in the red variant. In comparison to other tropical root and tuber crops cassava and sweet potato , anchote tubers are richer in protein as well as various minerals such as Ca, Mg, P, Fe, and S. Further studies regarding the carotenoids analysis of the red tissue anchote can provide more evidence about its applicability towards the alleviation of vitamin A deficiency, especially among children and pregnant women.


Coccinia abyssinica

Though it is a major traditional food crop of the area, it is not known in other parts of the world. Anchote grows at altitudes ranging from to meters above sea level where the annual rainfall is mm. The total yield of anchote is quintals per hectare, similar to sweet potatoes and regular potatoes. One of the desirable qualities of anchote as a tuber crop is its good keeping quality. The tubers can be stored in an underground pit and retrieved when needed, providing food security in times of other crop failures.


Coccinia abyssinica is an Ethiopian species of Coccinia which was first described by Jean-Baptiste Lamarck. The tuber is under its Oromo name anchote a well-known local crop, but also the leaves are eaten. Perennial, dioecious climber. Leaves are alternate with 1. If lobate, then the central lobe is dominating and has a sharp tip. Upper lamina glabrous with clear to whitish pustules, sometimes with white hairs.

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