Pumpkins grow in most parts of Uganda, often as a cover crop to protect the soil from erosion and moisture evaporation.
It is believed that crops intercropped with pumpkin give a higher yield.
Different regions have different varieties of pumpkins. South western Uganda has two main varieties of pumpkin: Edegede is round in shade and an army green colour, and it tends to grow bigger in size than any other pumpkin. The Igihwanya is small in size and turns yellow or orange when ripe. Both are cooked after being cut in pieces and served with beans.
A pumpkin, called igihaza grows in the south, on the border between Uganda and DR Congo. Its name derives from Rufumbira word ‘guhaga’, meaning satisfaction. As in the rest of the country, the Bafumbira in Kisoro district also traditionally eat pumpkins and use the leaves for sauce. The Baganda in central Uganda also cook the very young pumpkins called obuguju, mixed with pumpkin leaves (essuunsa) and other leafy vegetables. The leaves can be cut into small pieces, boiled and mashed with beans to make a sauce known as igusasa in Rufumbira or essuunsa in Luganda.
Pumpkin seeds (ebiryo) are also used in traditional Uganda cuisine, either eaten as a snack and roasted or steamed and served on the side of the plate of pumpkin pieces.
For centuries, mashed steamed pumpkins have been used as a baby food, often mixed with beans or fish soup. It is believed that children fed on pumpkins will be brighter and have better eyesight and resistance to diarrhoeal diseases.
(Sourced from Slow Foods Uganda)