Cacabus, a Vegetable, is a Savior for Karamojong Families During the Dry Season

This yellow vegetable is almost the size of an electric bulb and is mainly grown in Teso, Karamoja, Lango, and Acholi.

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Karimojong preparing the cacabus which is the only food they eat during dry season (photo by Steven Ariong) (2)
Karamojong women are preparing the cacabus to dry it early this year. (Photo by Steven Ariong)
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A yellow vegetable almost the size of an electric bulb, cacabus is mainly grown in Teso, Karamoja, Lango, and Acholi.

The distinctive thing about this vegetable is that, although it is smooth to taste, it tends to create a dry feeling in one’s mouth, hence making water an ideal companion at every meal.

In the Teso region, it is locally known as (Akobokobo). Unlike in Karamoja where cacabus is usually eaten in the dry season, in Teso, there is no specific period.



In Karamoja, it is believed that Cacabus is the only vegetable that can sustain households throughout the drought period until the rains begin in the next year. Furthermore, the heat from the sun aids in drying the vegetable.

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If you travel to Karamoja, especially in the month of December, a time when locals rely on the Cacabus plant as a main source of food, you will observe that every homestead or manyatta (Kraal) has the pods laid out in the sun to dry or stored.

Cacabus can be planted along with other crops such as pumpkin, sorghum, millet, and potatoes. It is a crawling plant, quite similar to watermelon, and takes three months to mature.

After it is harvested, the pods are pounded to get rid of the seeds.



The covers are then dried for a considerable time. The seeds are mixed with ash and then dried for storage. The ash acts as a pesticide until the planting period falls again. They take between three to four days to dry if the sun is hot.

Ways of drying cacabus Cacabus poured on top of the house to dry in Lotome Sub County in Napak (photo by Steven Ariong)
Cacabus poured on top of the roof to dry in Moroto. (Photo by Steven Ariong)

Sarah Nasike, a mother of eight children and a resident of Lorengedwat Sub County in Nakapiripirit district, says cacabus is the only rescuing vegetable in every family when its clock hits the dry spell.

“A family without Cacabus during the dry season like now is not a safe family because this is the only vegetable that guarantees that children will drink water throughout the day.

She said the vegetable is very tasty when cooked with peanut butter (odi).

How to cook cacabus:

  1. Wash the pods.
  2. Boil water.
  3. Place the pods in the boiling water for about seven minutes.
  4. Add a pinch of soda bicarbonate (magadi) to the mixture and boil for six more minutes.
  5. If you are cooking it with peanut butter (Odi), add it to the sauce and let it boil for a short time.
  6. Cacabus is best eaten with millet bread (Kalo).



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