Ukwaju: Money That Grows On Trees


are now turning to wild crops for the ‘wonders’ and opportunities that they
present. This comes at a time when most farmers are looking for alternative
crops for commercialization.

of the wild fruits slowly gaining popularity in the Kenyan market is the
tamarind, locally known as ukwaju.

is possible to make money off those tamarind trees in your farm or around your
village. All you need to do is shake the tree to harvest and you could make up
to 100% returns on Ibebet investments. You can sell a kilo of ukwaju at prices of up to ksh. 400 a kilo; to supermarkets and
vendors in various markets.

Ukwaju is a reddish brown flattened pod, velvety and
rusty-brown; with a shell that is brittle and seeds embedded in a sticky edible
pulp. With its sweet and tart taste, the fruit is quite popular in the food
industry as its taste is one of a kind.

Uses of

is commonly used in the form of pulp; which is used as a chief ingredient for
souring sauces, chutneys, curries and some beverages.

the Kenyan Coast, ukwaju is one of
the most sort after sauces. The seasoned tamarind sauce is mainly water soaked
tamarind seeds seasoned with onions, salt, garlic and other flavourings as
desired. It’s a great pairing for meat and poultry dishes as well as fried
finger foods.

tender leaves, young seedlings as well as flowers are eaten as a vegetable and
used in salads, stews and curries. Tamarind is also used to make processed
products such as toffees, jams, pickles, pulp powder among others.

the various food uses, tamarind seeds are used as a raw material in the
manufacture of oil and tannin. Additionally, manufacturers mix its pulp with
sea salt and use the mixture to polish brass, copper and silver.


is a drought resistant tree, that adapts well in the semi-arid areas. This
economically important tree is ideal for farm-forestry in the
drought-prone regions.

to a 2016 field guide by Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI) on Valuable
Trees and Shrubs of Kaya Mudzi Muvya Forest in Kilifi County, the tamarind tree or mkwaju,
is propagated through seeds and prefers well-drained, deep alluvial soils. For better germination, seeds are soaked in
cold water for about 12 hours.

propagated by seed may take up to 7 years to mature whereas trees propagated by
bud-grafting will come into bearing in 3-5 years. Practical management and
local conditions also affect the time for trees maturity.


Susan Nderitu

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