“There is no food insecurity in the world, there is food ignorance,” says Cecilia Tortajada, a senior research fellow at the Institute of Water Policy at the National University of Singapore. “Whenever we have indigenous crops we tend to disregard them as if they were not valuable but they are,” she adds.
The bambara groundnut, a protein-rich legume native to sub-Saharan Africa that is also grown in parts of southeast Asia, can trace its marginalisation to colonial rule. “African women who grew bambara groundnut were actually punished for growing it,” says Azam-Ali. “Colonial powers said you can’t grow that because there’s no oil. We can’t get a market for it.”