The Munkoyo Root: Traditional Uses, Biochemistry, Fermentation, and Potential Cultivation

Himoonga Bernard Moonga*, Sydney Phiri, Sijmen E. Schoustra, Justin Chileshe, Taonga Chirwa-Moonga, John Shindano

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The munkoyo root is a rich source of amylases used in the production of munkoyo and chibwantu beverages that are widely consumed in Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The munkoyo plant has several species that grow wildly in the forests and savannas of several southern African countries. Munkoyo is a general term used in Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo for a traditionally fermented, cereal-based beverage produced by hydrolysis of gelatinized starch of maize porridge, which is spontaneously fermented by microbes at ambient temperature. The enzymes from the munkoyo root hydrolyze the starch. The munkoyo beverages are consumed by both children and adults (both women and men) in rural and urban areas. Small-scale producers are leading the efforts to commercialize these products in urban areas, which has led to increased demand for the munkoyo root to the point of acute scarcity. This chapter reviews the uses of the munkoyo roots, the production processes of munkoyo and chibwantu beverages, the biochemical aspects of the root and enzymes, the fermentation and microbial composition, and the nutrition and health aspects. This chapter also explores the agronomic potential of the munkoyo plant with a view to commercialize its production thereby ensuring sustainability.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAfrican Natural Plant Products, Volume III: Discoveries and Innovations in Chemistry, Bioactivity, and Applications
EditorsH. Rodolfo Juliani, J.E. Simon, Chi-Tang Ho
PublisherAmerican Chemical Society
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9780841298750
ISBN (Print)9780841298767
Publication statusPublished - 11 Nov 2020

Publication series

NameACS Symposium Series
ISSN (Print)0097-6156
ISSN (Electronic)1947-5918


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