aki hausa in Nigeria

Aki Hausa (Tiger Nuts) Benefits & Name In English

 

What is aki hausa called in english

Here in Nigeria, there are several different names for this crop. Amongst the Hausa it is called Aya, the Igbo call it Aki Hausa (because the plant happens to grow better in Northern Nigeria dominated by the Hausa tribe), and the Yoruba call it Ofio.

While one of these names literarily translates to “Hausa nuts” in English, the crop is the edible tuber of the sedge plant, widely grown across much of the world, especially in most of the Eastern Hemisphere, including Southern Europe, Africa, and Madagascar.

This tuber crop, Cyperus esculentus is more commonly known as tiger nut, yellow nutsedge, earth almond amongst a host of other names.

In most countries and regions where tiger nuts are cultivated, such as in Nigeria, the Americas, the Middle East, Eastern Asia, North Africa, and other West African countries, they are used primarily as animal feed, as a snack food, and also for the preparation of horchata de chufa (as it is called in Arabia), otherwise called “Kunun Aya” in Northern Nigeria.

tiger nuts milk

The most common species of the tiger nut plant, C.esculentus, is an extremely invasive plant, growing and spreading merely by seed dispersion. As a result, tiger nut plants can be found wild, as a weed, or as a crop.

In most countries including Northern Nigeria, tiger nut grows like a weed and grows wildly without any need for cultivation.

Its adaptability with different climates and soil types allow it to be easily transported and grown across varied climate and soil environments. This serves to emphasize the profitability of tiger nut cultivation considering the exceptional nutritional value of the plant, and the ease of growing it.

Cultivation Of Aki Hausa (Tiger Nuts) In Nigeria

Tiger nuts seedlings

First of all, large-scale farming of this crop would require the use of farm mechanization, such as tractors, cultivators, and plows. The planting period is around the rainy season from April to May.

A single hectare of land would require about 120kg of tiger nut tubers for planting, while an acre would require about 49kg.

Tiger nuts plants grow in nearly all soil types, but for good performance, the best soil to use would be sandy moist soil rich in organic matter. They also require that the soil has a pH of 5.0-7.0.

The roots of the aki Hausa plant reach a depth of 30-60cm. Hence, it is advisable to plant the seeds deep enough, perhaps 8cm deep, to allow for easy penetration of their roots as they grow. They should also have a 15-29cm spacing between seeds.

However, they must never be planted in soil with a salty source of water, as they can’t stand it.

Tiger nuts can be cultivated by seeds (tubers) or through rhizomes. Rhizomes are the creeping parts of the plant just by the root.

They grow very vigorously 4-5 months after planting (July – August).

Tubers start forming (developing) after 6 weeks (about 2 months) after seedlings sprout. The nuts or tubers mature between 3-4 months. As the tubers grow up, they trigger the growth of rhizomes, which in turn produce a basal bulb near the soil surface. The basal bulb in turn triggers the growth of stems and leaves above the ground and fibrous roots underground.

Aki Hausa plants are wind-pollinated by wind, and this can be good news if you wish to grow them in an open-air garden, or your backyard (lol). They can also be grown in containers. To grow them in a garden, take the following steps.

First, mix an equal amount of soil and manure, and fill a sizeable, drainable container with this mixture before planting one seed per container.

Keep them in a warm environment, where weeding and harvesting can be easily done.

Tiger nuts require an adequate water supply, so if you are going into commercial production, there would be the need for a good irrigation system in place to ensure a constant supply of water.

Tiger nuts are hardly affected by diseases but because of the presence of some stubborn weeds, it is encouraged that weeding should be done regularly. Also, since it is a root crop, nitrogenous fertilizer or manure should be minimized after flowering.

Health benefits of aki hausa

health benefits of aki hausa

According to Healthline, below are four great health benefits of Aki Hausa (tiger nuts).

1. Rich in Nutrients

Aki Hausa (Tiger nuts) contain a variety of nutrients and beneficial plant compounds.

On average, one ounce (28 grams) provides 103–121 calories, 2–7g fibers, 9g carbohydrates, 1g protein, 7-9g fats, 278% daily value (DV) of Vitamin E, 13-40% DV Iron, 9-11% Phosphorus, 2-8% DV Vitamin C, Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium and Zinc.

Imagine so much nutritional value in just one food!

Research shows that they are rich in antioxidants too.

2. May Improve Digestion

Tiger nuts may promote healthy digestion in various ways.

For starters, they are high in insoluble fiber, which passes through your gut without being digested. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to your stools and helps food move through your gut easily, reducing the likelihood of constipation.

Moreover, tiger nuts may contain enzymes, such as catalases, lipases, and amylases, which help break down foods in your gut, relieving gas, indigestion, and diarrhea.

3. May Reduce Blood Sugar Levels

Tiger nuts may help keep your blood sugar levels in check.

Animal studies show that tiger nut extract may help reduce blood sugar levels. This may, in large part, be due to the high fiber content of the tubers which may slow down the absorption of sugar in the gut.

Tiger nuts are also rich in the amino acid arginine, which may increase insulin production and sensitivity, both of which are important for blood sugar control.

4. May Improve Heart Health

Tiger nuts may also be good for the health of your heart.

That’s partly because of the high amount of monounsaturated fats they contain, which give them a fat profile similar to that of heart-healthy olive oil.

Diets rich in monounsaturated fats are linked to lower levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and higher levels of “good” HDL cholesterol. They are also associated with a lower risk of heart attack, stroke, and death from heart disease.

What’s more, tiger nuts are rich in the amino acid arginine. Arginine can promote heart health because your body can use it to make nitric oxide, a compound that helps arteries and veins dilate, hence lowering blood pressure.

Aki hausa in Nigeria

With all of this value contained in one plant, perhaps you should look at them differently the next time you see those tiger nuts displayed for sale in wheelbarrows, along the roadside. Do make sure you check the quality of the seeds before purchasing them and also wash them properly before eating.

It has also been found that roasting tiger nut seeds make their nutrients easier to be absorbed in the gut. You could try this at home, roasting over low fire in an oven or on a stove.

Aki Hausa milk is a joy to taste, and if you would want to make a healthy homemade drink, it would most certainly be a great choice to do tiger nuts. The fresh nuts can easily be blended in an electric blender, and strained through a sieve, and tah dah! Your tiger but drink or horchata de chufa is ready.

As an entrepreneur interested in agriculture, you could consider venturing into the tiger nuts production business in Nigeria.

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