4 Economically Important African Fruits And Their Seasons

Today we’re talking about delicious economically important African fruits, their respective seasons, nutritional values, their economic importance, and their health benefits. But before that, let’s look at a brief overview of fruits.

Fruits are the sweet and fleshy product of a tree or other plant that contains seeds and can be eaten as food. Well, that’s basically what most of us know as fruits, but do you all know that fruits are the fleshy or dry ripened ovary of a flowering plant enclosing the seed or seeds? Oh yes, that’s right!

According to Britannica, Botanically, a fruit is a mature ovary and its associated parts. It usually contains seeds, which have developed from the enclosed ovule after fertilization, although development without fertilization, called parthenocarpy, is known, for example, in bananas. Fertilization induces various changes in a flower: the anthers and stigma wither, the petals drop off, and the sepals may be shed or undergo modifications; the ovary enlarges, and the ovules develop into seeds, each containing an embryo plant. The principal purpose of the fruit is the protection and dissemination of the seed.

So technically, this would mean that apricots, bananas, and grapes, as well as bean pods, corn grains, tomatoes,  cucumbers, and (in their shells) acorns and almonds, are all fruits.

Types of Fruits

  • Pome – most of the fruit is formed from the receptacle (under the flower) eg pear, apple
  • Drupe – has fleshy fruit and a single seed with a hard endocarp eg peaches, coconut, and olives
  • Berry – has many seeds eg tomatoes, peppers, and cucumber but not strawberries!
  • Aggregate fruit – develop from one flower with many pistils eg strawberries.
  • Legumes – split along two sides eg beans, peas
  • Capsules – are dry fruit that has several carpels eg orchids
  • Nuts – have one seed and a hard pericarp eg acorns
  • Grains – have the fruit and seed joined closely together eg wheat, rice, barley.
  • Multiple fruits – come from several different flowers joined together eg pineapples.

Why Everyone Should Eat A Lot of Fruits

Fruit consumption is beneficial to one’s health. People who consume more fruits and vegetables as part of a balanced diet are less likely to develop chronic diseases including heart disease, which includes heart attacks and strokes, and some types of cancer.

Consuming lower-calorie foods, such as fruits, rather than higher-calorie foods, may help to reduce calorie intake. Fruits are high in fiber, vitamin C, potassium, and folate, all of which are essential elements for good health and body upkeep.

A Brief History About African Foods

According to a report by ZipMec, the consumption of fruit was widespread also in the past. It was served in different ways: fresh, dried, or canned. The piles of berries and fruit discovered in several archaeological sites are proof that since ancient times different kind of fruit was harvested and consumed, even as a provision for the production of fermented drinks: about that, we can mention the cranberry wine in a container made of birch bark found in a grave of the Bronze Age in Denmark.

Starting from the Third Century b.c., during the Copper Age, there were also grapes, cherries, sloes, plums, and chestnuts. In this epoch, many kinds of grains and legumes were cultivated, and also olive trees, vines, and figs, together with other fruit trees were already cultivated and widespread. Their diet was also composed of nuts, such as pistachios and almonds, which were part of the trees cultivated in the late Bronze Age “gardens”. Grapes and vines were mainly exploited for the production of wine, which however was an elitist drink.

In the Middle Ages, as sugar and honey were particularly expensive, people used to add fruit to many courses, to sweeten them someway: lemons, citrons, bitter oranges (as the sweet variety was discovered centuries later), pomegranates, quinces, and grapes were mainly consumed in Southern Europe.
Instead, in the North other varieties of fresh fruit were widespread, such as apples, pears, plums, and strawberries.
Figs and dates were eaten all over Europe, but in the North, they were expensive imported products.

People have consumed culturally and traditionally important indigenous fruits such as baobab, desert date, black plum, and tamarind for possibly as long as they have lived in Africa. Farmers were able to enjoy the fruits of these abundant natural trees without having to learn how to effectively cultivate them.

Now let’s look at African fruits of high economical importance.

4 Economically Important African Fruits And Their Seasons

Consumer demand for new fruits and vegetables continues to grow in African countries, resulting in an increase in fresh produce trade volume. As a result, small farms have grown and new products have been added, resulting in more rural and urban jobs and a reduction in income discrepancies between farms of various sizes. As countries that demand fresh fruit and vegetables become wealthier, their demand for high-valued commodities increases.

The trade of both seasonal and tropical African fruits has grown as shipping and storage technologies have improved. Many African countries have benefited from favorable growing circumstances for one or more of these crops, and have acquired access to international markets.

Fruit and vegetable supply sources for European markets have migrated geographically over the last four decades, from the Mediterranean edge in the 1960s to eastern and southern Africa after the 1970s, and finally to western Africa more recently, with South Africa being the highest exporters of African fruits.

Here are 6 economically important African fruits, main countries of exportation, their nutritional values, health benefits, their respective seasons, and cultivation.

 

Dates

dates African fruit
Image from Unsplash

 

Phoenix dactylifera, also known as date or date palm, is a flowering plant in the Arecaceae palm family that is grown for its tasty sweet fruit. The species is commonly farmed in Northern Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia, as well as in many tropical and subtropical climates around the world.

A date is a stone fruit, meaning it has a single seed surrounded by an outer fleshy fruit (like peaches, mangoes, and olives). They’re grown on date palm trees, so where you would usually envision coconuts, picture big bunches of hundreds of dates!

Date fruits are the sweet flavor of the dessert and one of the oldest cultivated foods in human civilization. Dates became more popular as people started eating healthier diets and going vegan because they are a natural sweetener that is high in nutrients.

This delectable African fruit comes from one of nature’s most dangerous plants (fronds of date palms are highly poisonous). For individuals living in the Middle East and North Africa, it is an essential food source. For thousands of years, the trees that bear it have grown beside some of the world’s oldest rivers. Although the date palm is considerably more than that, with its thick, sweet fruit.

Here are 13 interesting facts about dates that would shock you: Click this link to view

Exportation of dates in Africa

This African fruit plays a significant role in the economy of several countries along the Fertile Crescent. Tunisia (North Africa) is the world’s biggest exporter of dates in value. In 2016 it exported around $227 million worth of dates or 16% of global exports. Other countries involved in the exportation of dates are Algeria and Nigeria.

Egypt, on the other hand, is the world’s greatest producer of this African fruit, accounting for roughly 17% of global production, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization. Despite its vast production, Egypt only exports about 3% of all dates in the world.

Season

They typically begin to bear fruit in April or May, and are “ripe for the picking” around late August to September. A single tree can produce 200 to 300 pounds of fruit per year, and it can be harvested many times throughout a season, as the dates do not ripen all at once.

Varieties of dates

There are over 200 different types of dates, each with its own shape and flavor, yet they all have the same nutritional value. For the purpose of this article, we’ll list just a few varieties of this African fruit:

  • Medjool Dates
  • Piarom Dates
  • Deglet Noor Dates
  • Mazafati Dates
  • Barhi Dates
  • Rabbi Dates
  • Thoory Dates
  • Sayer Dates
  • Dayri Dates
  • Halawy Dates
  • Sukkari Dates
  • Khudri Dates
  • Zahidi Dates
  • Safawi Dates

Nutritional value

The following is the nutritional information for one average-sized date:

  • calories: 20
  • total fat: 0.03 grams (g)
  • total carbohydrates: 5.33 g
  • dietary fiber: 0.6 g
  • sugar: 4.5 g
  • protein: 0.17 g
  • vitamin B-6: 0.012 milligrams (mg)
  • iron: 0.07 mg
  • magnesium: 3 mg
  • potassium: 47 mg

Health benefits of eating dates

Here are a good number of health benefits of eating this African fruit regularly:

  • Anemia management: Many nutrients, including iron, can be found in dates. Anemia, a disorder marked by fatigue, dizziness, brittle nails, and shortness of breath, can be caused by an iron shortage. Fortunately, increasing your iron-rich food intake, such as dates, can help alleviate anemia symptoms.
  • Facilitates Natural Labour: Pregnant women who consume dates on a regular basis have a better probability of giving birth naturally. Natural labor is becoming increasingly rare in modern times. Many young women in our time are concerned about the difficulties that emerge from cesarean deliveries. During the later stages of pregnancy, eating dates can assist to make the entire birth process go more smoothly.

Researchers looked at prior research and came to the conclusion that eating dates can shorten the active period of labor, which is when the cervix dilates. It may also boost the bishop score, a metric that assesses the cervix’s preparation for vaginal labor. However, date consumption had no effect on the length of the first, second, and third stages of labor, or the frequency of cesarean section.

  • Natural sweeteners with no added sugar: This African fruit is commonly mistaken for dried fruit, although they are essentially fresh fruit because no water is removed. Dates’ sugar levels are naturally occurring because they are complete, uncooked fruits. In other words, if an energy bar has only dates as a sweetener, the label can state that there is no added sugar. That’s important since added sugar is the sort we should avoid because it’s linked to a higher risk of heart disease and obesity.
  • High concentration of anti-oxidants: This African fruit is well-known for its high antioxidant content. Dates have the highest concentration of antioxidants when compared to other dried fruits in the same category. The importance of antioxidants in your everyday diet cannot be overstated. Some of the antioxidants it contains includes Phenolic Acid, flavonoids, and carotenoids.

 

Oranges

orange African fruit
Image from Unsplash

The orange is the fruit of various citrus species in the family Rutaceae (see list of plants known as orange); it primarily refers to Citrus × sinensis, which is also called sweet orange, to distinguish it from the related Citrus × aurantium, referred to as bitter orange. The sweet orange reproduces asexually (apomixis through nucellar embryony); varieties of sweet orange arise through mutations.

Oranges are a low-calorie and high-nutrient citrus fruit. Oranges contribute to strong, clear skin and can help lessen a person’s risk of a variety of ailments when consumed as part of a healthy and diverse diet.

They’re popular because of their inherent sweetness, the types of varieties available, and the numerous applications. They can be used in juices and marmalades, eaten whole, or zested to impart a tangy flavor to cakes and pastries.

Here are 10 interesting facts about oranges you should know: Click this link to view.

Exportation in Africa

As of late 2020, Egypt became the largest exporter of this African fruit surpassing its rival countries; Spain and South Africa. According to a report from Tridge, Egypt exported almost 1.8m tonnes of oranges in 2019/20, an increase of 9 percent compared with the previous year, generating a revenue of US$660m.

Approximately 10% of the oranges consumed around the world come from South Africa. The consumption of South Africa oranges is also robust in the local market.

Orange production in South Africa is geared for export. They account for almost 60 percent of South Africa’s total citrus exports.

Season

The citrus season in South Africa starts in the month of April and ends in September. However, the harvest time varies depending on the fruit and variety.

Varieties

We’re going to list out 10 varieties of oranges:

  • Navel oranges
  • Blood oranges
  • Tangerine
  • Acid-less oranges
  • Mandarin
  • Seville oranges
  • Bergamot Orange
  • Clementine
  • Trifoliata Orange
  • Cara Cara navel oranges

Nutritional value

One medium-sized orange has:

  • 60 calories
  • No fat or sodium
  • 3 grams of fiber
  • 12 grams of sugar
  • 1 gram of protein
  • 14 micrograms of vitamin A
  • 70 milligrams of vitamin C
  • 6% of your daily recommended amount of calcium
  • 237 milligrams of potassium
  • 15.4 grams of carbohydrates

Health benefits

  • It is high vitamin C content: One orange provides around 80% of the daily vitamin C requirement. This important ingredient aids in the production of collagen, reduces inflammation, and increases the body’s ability to utilize fat as a fuel source, both during activity and during rest. A lack of vitamin C in the blood has also been linked to an increase in body fat and waist measurements.
  • Helps in the fight against cancer: According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, Dietary fiber “convincingly” lowers the risk of colorectal cancer, while fruits in general “probably” cut the risk of lung, stomach, mouth, pharynx, larynx, and esophageal cancer. Citrus limonoids, a cancer-fighting component found in citrus fruits like oranges, have shown promising results in lab studies, including the ability to treat malignancies of the lung, breast, stomach, colon, skin, and mouth.
  • Keeps blood pressure under check: This African fruit, which is high in Vitamin B6, aid in the formation of hemoglobin and, thanks to the presence of magnesium, assist to maintain blood pressure in balance.
  • Rich in other nutrients: This African fruit also contain potassium and folate, two important nutrients. Potassium aids in the function of the heart and muscular contractions, as well as the maintenance of muscle mass. This mineral is also a natural diuretic, which helps to lower blood pressure and prevent fluid retention. Folate, on the other hand, is good for the brain and nervous system, and getting enough of it can help you avoid depression and memory issues. Oranges also include trace levels of calcium, magnesium, vitamin A, and vitamin B vitamins.
  • Maintaining skin health: A day’s worth of oranges could lead to healthier skin. Oranges are high in vitamin C, which aids in the production of collagen, a protein that is essential for maintaining healthy skin. The high beta-carotene concentration in oranges also aids in the production and processing of vitamin A, which aids in skin cell growth.

 

Avocados

Avocado African fruit
Image from Unsplash

The avocado (Persea americana), a tree likely originating from south-central Mexico, is classified as a member of the flowering plant family Lauraceae. The fruit of the plant also called an avocado (or avocado pear or alligator pear), is botanically a large berry containing a single large seed. Avocado trees are partially self-pollinating and are often propagated through grafting to maintain predictable fruit quality and quantity.

Exportation in Africa

In the world, South Africa is the sixth-largest exporter of this African fruit. Between 45 and 50% of South Africa’s avocados are exported; 10 to 12% are processed into oil and guacamole, and the rest are sold locally. About 95% of South African avocado exports are to Europe, the United Kingdom (UK), and Russia.

Kenya is ranked eighth in worldwide avocado production. The nation exported 26,481 tons of the fruit between January and March this year, compared to 15,101 tons in 2020. … Kenya’s avocado exports jumped 15 percent – to 68,000 tons – over the twelve months to October 2020, earning the country Sh14 billion (€107.8 mln).

Other African countries involved in the exportation of this African fruit include:

  • Rwanda.
  • The Democratic Republic of Congo.
  • Cameroon.
  • Mozambique
  • Tanzania
  • Zimbabwe.

Avocado season

Avocado season is in full swing in South Africa from March through to September. Whereas, the main season for this Africa fruit in Kenya is February to October. The Fuerte is available from February and Hass variety being available from March. The harvest periods for avocados in Tanzania are from January to March and May to August. In general, this African fruit is usually ready to harvest in September.

Varieties

  • Edranol
  • Fuerte
  • Hass
  • Lamb hass
  • Maluma hass
  • Pinkerton
  • Ryan
  • Reed

Nutritional value

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), these are the nutrition facts for about one-half, or 68 grams (g), of an avocado:

  • Calories 114
  • Dietary fiber 6 g
  • Total sugar 0.2 g
  • Potassium 345 milligrams (mg)
  • Sodium 5.5 mg
  • Magnesium 19.5 mg
  • Vitamin A 43 micrograms (μg)
  • Vitamin E 1.3 mg
  • Vitamin K 14 μg
  • Vitamin B-6 0.2 mg
  • Monounsaturated fatty acids 6.7 g

Nutritional benefits

  • It helps lower the risk of depression: Monounsaturated fats contained in this African fruit, have been demonstrated to help people feel less depressed. (Balancing fat intake may also aid in depression management.) Furthermore, a high level of folate has been demonstrated to aid in the maintenance of dopamine and serotonin, two feel-good neurotransmitters in the brain.
  • It is great for the skin: Including avocado in your diet may help you maintain a youthful appearance. Its vitamin C content may aid in the reduction of skin irritation, the speeding up of wound healing, and the soothing of dry skin. Avocado oil has been shown to increase collagen formation, which helps to reduce the signs of aging.
  • Great for hair: The rich oils and nutrients of this African fruit make it an excellent treatment for damaged or frizzy hair. Half an avocado (or two tablespoons of avocado oil) should be mashed and massaged into your hair and scalp. Allow for fifteen minutes before shampooing to make your wild hair smoother and more manageable. It is also good for treating dandruff, revitalizing the scalp, and making hair masks for shiny hair.
  • Avocados can help reduce liver damage: A 2000 study presented by the American Chemical Society found that avocados contain chemicals that can protect against liver toxins. And avocados may be able to lessen the liver damage caused by the hepatitis C virus.

Guavas

guava African fruit
Image from Pixabay

Guava is a common tropical fruit cultivated in many tropical and subtropical regions. Psidium guajava is a small tree in the myrtle family, native to Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, and northern South America. The guava FRUIT is a source of vitamin C, fiber, and other substances that act as antioxidants. Antioxidants slow down or stop the harmful effects of oxidation. Oxidation is a chemical reaction in which oxygen is added to a chemical element or compound. Guava LEAVES also contain chemicals with antioxidants and other effects. It is not known how guava works for medical conditions.

Exportation in Africa

In an overview of the Guava market in South Africa, in 2020, South Africa was ranked 31st with a share in export of 0.37%.

Season

Generally, this African fruit gets ripe about 90 to 150 days after flowering. Guavas are harvested throughout the year (except during May and June) in one or the other region of the country. However, peak harvesting periods in north India are August for rainy season crop, November- December for winter season crop, and March-April for spring season crop.

Varieties

Red/Pink Guavas
  • Red Indian
  • Blitch
  • Patillo
  • Miami Red
  • Rolfs
  • Anakapalle
  • Hapi
  • Kothrud
  • Pink Indian
  • Stone
  • Supreme
White Guavas
  • Redland
  • Miami White
  • Webber
  • Hart
  • Behat Coconut
  • Chittidar
  • Habshi
  • Lucknow 42
  • Lucknow 49
  • Sefada
  • Karela
  • Nagpur

Nutritional value

Guava is high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, polyphenols, and flavonoids, making it a nutritional powerhouse. One hundred grams of guava can provide 14% of your daily fiber needs without increasing your calorie intake.

This African fruit is a good source of vitamins A and C, copper, folate, iron, B vitamins, potassium, zinc, phosphorus, and antioxidants such as beta carotene and lycopene.

  • Calories – 68 kcal
  • Fiber – 5.4 g
  • Potassium – 417 mg
  • Vitamin C – 228 mg

Health benefits

  • May help lower blood sugar levels.
  • May boost heart health.
  • May help relieve symptoms of painful menstruation.
  • Guavas have been found to be very effective in weight loss diets.
  • This African fruit may be helpful in the fight against cancer.
  • Guavas help boost the body’s immunity.
  • Eating guavas may also be good for your skin.

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Amarachi Irobihttp://@Amara_ii
My name is Amarachi Irobi, a content writer and food lover who loves to explore traditional African cuisine.

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