An innovative approach to tackle poverty and deforestation in Madagascar
Baobab forest in Madagascar
By placing an economic value on the baobab fruit to improve the incomes of very poor people, we want to encourage local communities to protect their local trees and natural resources for a living forest.
Madagascan forests are under strong human pressure, and are likely to disappear even before having been fully studied. Indeed, 250,000 hectares of Madagascan forests disappear every year which means that if this pace of destruction is maintained the forests will have completely disappeared in a decade.
Deforestation by slash and burn agriculture
This will be a catastrophe for Madagascar which is one of the ten most important biodiversity “hot spots” on the planet. The main reason for deforestation is slash & burn for agriculture because of poverty, ignorance and a traditional disastrous habit. Baobab tree is a genus of eight species and six only grow in Madagascar an emblematic symbol of the country.
For centuries local populations have used all parts of the multi-purpose baobab tree as a source for daily food, craft products and as a traditional remedy for skin, respiratory, digestive, fever and other ailments.
We want to bring to the world the health benefits of two 100 % ethical and sustainably wild harvested, raw and organic super ingredients from the baobab superfruit from Madagascar:
Baobab fruit powder
Baobab oil from the seeds
To make the Baobab Superfruit from Madagascar available to the world we need to raise funds for the first run.
The local population has always consumes the products of the baobab, we have to help them to preserve this heritage.
Buy organic and natural baobab powder and food supplements, full of natural and powerful antioxidants for the body and spirit’s vitality on Biologiquement.com, the e-shop of AGOJI’s company : organic baobab powder
Madagascar’s bid to save its majestic baobab trees
Antananarivo, Madagascar (CNN) — With their unique shape and imposing stature, the majestic baobab trees have been an icon of Madagascar’s landscape for centuries, unmovable symbols of the tropical island’s luscious scenery.
Six out of the eight species of the long-lived tree are endemic to Madagascar, the island country located in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern coast of Africa.
The stunning country is home to a rich ecosystem that boasts an incredible mosaic of animal and plant life evolved for tens of millions of years in complete isolation. As a result 90% of Madagascar’s wildlife exists nowhere else on the planet.
Madagascar’s bid to save its majestic baobab trees
In the midst of it all, the mighty baobab has stood tall for generations, its barrel-like trunk reaching a height of 18 meters.
Often described as “the upside down tree” due to its unusual shape — the tree’s branches look like roots sticking up in the air — the baobab has sparked many legends throughout the centuries. An ancient myth has goes that when the gods planted the trees, they kept walking away so they placed them upside down. Communities in Madagascar, one of the poorest countries in the world, have long been benefiting from the deciduous trees — their fruits are edible, their leaves are used for medicinal purposes, while their large trunks are often excavated to serve as shelters or store water during dry periods.
“There are many interactions with the life of community living around forest,” explains botanist Jimmy Razafitsalama.
“First, they use the bark for the construction of their house and then they use leaves as medicinal plants. They eat also the fruit because the fruit are very rich in vitamins and don’t forget also it’s one of the attraction for tourists to come here.”
But while tourism proceeds can generate income for people often living on less than $2 a day, many other human activities are posing a serious threat to the baobab trees and the island’s one-of-a-kind ecosystem.
Largely dependent on the island’s natural resources, many rural communities in Madagascar have to make ends meet by exploiting the land that surrounds them — the country is estimated to have lost 90% of its forest to deforestation over the years.
Environmentalists say that activities like slash-and-burn agriculture — where an area of forest is cut and burned to create fields — logging for timber and fuelwood and charcoal production are all destroying the island’s beautiful rainforests and their endemic biodiversity.
“They cut the trees down to clear the land for agriculture or for grazing their animals,” says Razafitsalama, who has moved to the island’s northernmost part near the city of Diego Suarez to teach locals about biodiversity.
In recent years, authorities in Madagascar have taken up a series of initiatives to save its precious forests. The country has launched several conservation and reforestation projects and has also marked many regions in the country as national parks, attracting ecotourists from across the world.
Razafitsalama says that more needs to be done to safeguard the future of the baobab trees and the vast array of unique species living in Madagascar’s forests.
“Now the government they want to increase the surface of protected areas. They made a big effort but right now I see for baobab it’s not yet representative,” he says.
“A good example is this forest in front of us — it is not protected but this has the highest concentration of population of this endemic species.”
Unless more action is taken and behaviors change, Madagascar, one of the world’s true biodiversity hotspots, will risk losing more of its forests, putting in danger the survival of its unique species.
Learn more about the legendary baobabs in the Tarangire…
The morning is windy. The immense skies and surrounding landscape intoxicate in their quiet enormity. I am behind the wheels of a Land Cruiser in the Tarangire National Park.
On this day, I find myself in the company of a few acquaintances, battling the discomfort of the tsetse fly infested bush in the park (visitors to the park are advised to wear long-sleeved shirts at all times).
And then after a short drive in the park, we see the baobabs. The baobab tree is a common feature of the Tarangire National Park. Our guide tells us that in Madagascar and Senegal, there are special beliefs tied to baobas among the locals, while in northern Australia they attract tourists.
Interesting debate and disagreements ensue over the baobab tree, which is probably more controversial than all of the continent’s famous trees combined. Personally, I am awed by the enormous thick trunk that strides up from the earth; the bark that looks wrinkled like the skin of an elephant, and the branches with their long arms, extending to spiny fingers.
Old trees are covered in patches of leaves, while the younger ones are sparsely decorated. The fruit, bouille, dangles from the branches on long vines.
The baobab’s omnipresence, however, does not lessen the magic that each tree seems to hold.
The Baobabs tree
Moments of reflection
I have had intimate moments of reflection, in my past visits here, close to these mighty trees. I have come close to finding great herds of wildlife. They are wondrous and they have touched me in a special way, and this visit is dedicated to get more insight into the kind of deep spiritual impact that an African experience has on the trees.
Our guide further tells us, the baobab is highly regarded by African people because of all of its parts that can be used in different ways. Besides being an important source of timber, the trunks are often hollowed out by people who use them for shelter, grain storage or as water reservoirs. The hollowed trunks also serve as burial sites. And some of the most important products come from the bark of the tree, which contains a fibre that is used to make fishnets, cords, sacks and clothing.
The bark can also be ground into a powder for flavouring food. The leaves were traditionally used for leavening, but are also used as a vegetable.
Its fruits and seeds are also edible for humans and animals. The pulp of the fruit, when dried and mixed with water, makes a drink that tastes similar to lemonade.
The seeds, which taste like cream of tartar and are a valuable source of vitamin C, were traditionally pounded into meal when other food was scarce. Other products such as soap, necklaces, glue, rubber, medicine and cloth can be produced from the various parts of the baobab tree.
Not only that.
The baobab tree serves as a meeting place for many people in African villages to discuss community matters, relate the news of the day, or tell stories. It is also considered to be an object of worship by the people of the African Savannah.
Religious beliefs and practices in Africa have played a role in raising the baobab tree to a level of sacredness. Its ability to survive long periods of time without water, its usefulness and its extremely long-life might be some possible reasons the people of the African Savannah have worshipped the baobab. One particular way the baobab tree has been used as a religious object is as a burial chamber.
In some parts of Africa, the bodies of certain important individuals are placed in a hollowed-out trunk of the baobab tree to symbolize the communion between the vital forces of the plant foods and the body of the dead. As we drive further into the park, I become dizzy with the choice of baobabs in front of me, each seeming bigger than the last while some sheltering different animals such as elephants, lions, zebras, wildebeest and so on.
I can still listen closely enough to hear the wind rustling through the tree’s thousands of lives. I imagine that it is the whispers of the living secrets of the park.
Then on our last sighting our guide drives us to the quieter parts of the park where one of the landmarks and a-must-see-area in the park is found – the poacher’s hideout, a hollow huge baobab tree named for obvious reasons.
Before the park was gazetted to become a national park in 1970, the area was popular among rhino hunters and poachers, we are told.
The baobab powder, extracted from the Baobab, the king of trees
Everyone will agree that the baobab is a special tree with its massive trunk, unique shape – which according to legend is the result of God planting it upside down – and its powerful presence.
This king of trees seems to hold aeons of life-experience like a wizened old elephant matriarch or like a tall rugged mountain. It is one of nature’s cathedrals, offering shelter, food and relief from sickness. It is no wonder that this gargantuan deciduous tree holds a place in our hearts and has inspired myths and superstition.
It’s the stuff of legends – living to hundreds of years old; its hollow interior having served as a chapel, water reservoir, shop and place of refuge; its fibrous bark collapsing to the ground at the end of its life cycle; and its delicate and pendulous white flowers, centred with a soft brush of bright yellow pollen, blooming for only 24 hours before falling like confetti at a wedding. There are eight species of baobab: an African, six Madagascan and one Australian species.
Baobab – The king of trees
The African baobab Andansonia digitata or Kremetartboom at it’s known in Afrikaans, occurs at low altitudes in hot, dry woodland in the continent’s more tropical regions, in well-drained stony soil. It has compound finger-like leaves composed in spirals of 5-7 leafl ets at the ends of single long stalks. Its greyish-brown unevenlyfolded trunk can be more than 20m in circumference although it is often not more than 15m high.
Waxy white flowers appear in spring or early summer. The buds start to open in the late afternoon, the flowers opening completely at sunset to be pollinated at night by fruit bats and several species of bushbaby. By the next afternoon they have wilted and fallen to the ground. The oval fruit has a hard woody shell and contains a powdery white pulp, rich in vitamin C and likened to cream of tartar. A drink made with the pulp has been used to treat fevers and diarrhoea and the powdered seeds are said to cure children’s hiccups.
The seeds are dispersed by large mammals like primates and elephants. Some of the superstitions surrounding the baobab include the belief that if you pick a baobab flower, you will be devoured by a lion as the blossoms are inhabited by spirits, that the water the seeds have been soaked in will act as protection against an attack by a crocodile (although sucking and eating the seeds will attract a crocodile), an infusion of the bark will make a man strong and that a baby boy should be washed in water in which the bark has been soaked. The great tree has a patchy distribution in the northern areas of the country.
Amongst Namibia’s better- known baobabs are those that cling tenaciously to the rocky edges of Epupa Falls, the impressive Holboom in the Nyae Nyae conservancy, the Dorslandboom on the way to Khaudum Game Reserve where the Dorsland trekkers are said to have camped in the late 1800s, ‘Tree 1063’ on Keibeb farm near Grootfontein and the Ombalantu baobab in Outapi.
The Ombalantu baobab is a heritage site with a long history. The hundreds-of-year old omukwa or baobab was once a place of refuge for the Ombalantu people who climbed into its centre and hid between its fibrous walls during tribal wars and cattle skirmishes. It was later used as a post-office and finally a chapel.
A lectern with a bible and several benches remain in the baobab’s centre and visitors to the Ombalantu Baobab Tree Campsite are welcome to sit in the living chapel. Baobabs demand reverence by virtue of their sheer size and age. They tower into the sky, crowned by birds’ nests and a fringe of green leaves or they stand stark and imposing on the arid land. Whatever the season, the king of trees cannot be ignored.
Baobab is a deciduous tropical fruit tree ranging in height from 5 to 25 m and is distributed in belts in low-lying areas across Africa, Madagascar, India, Sri Lanka and Australia.
It belongs to the family called Bombacaceae. It is a very long-lived, fast-growing tree and has a lifespan of hundreds to thousands of years. The growth of the baobab is mainly managed and protected by local people. Baobabs are widespread throughout the hot, drier regions of tropical Africa, extending from Mozambique, the northern provinces of South Africa and Namibia to Ethiopia, Sudan and southern fringes of the Sahara. In South Africa the tree is found in the frost-free areas near Waterpoort in the Western Soutpansberg of the Limpopo Province.
Climatic and soil requirements
Baobabs occur in semiarid to subhumid tropical zones.
They grow on many different soils including sandy loam but develop best on calcareous substrates and on deep, slightly moist sites. They thrive where the average annual temperature is 20 to 30 °C. Germination is achieved only when soil temperature exceeds 28 °C. Baobabs are extremely susceptible to frost throughout their life cycle.
Land preparation is done in the summer or at the onset of the rainy season to preserve the soil structure. The soil
should be ploughed 3 to 4 weeks prior to transplanting, then again after 15 days, and then again just before planting the seedlings. The soil should be leveled and have good drainage.
Seedlings are mainly raised and transplanted into the field at 10 m x 10 m spacing. The hole size is 60 cm x 60 cm x 60 cm, but smaller may be suitable (40 cm3). The trees, planted in a row, should be given weekly volume of water which vary from 10 l for the first tree, 15 l for the second and 30 l for the third. Planting is done when the rainy season has started. Cuttings should be 5 cm to 10 cm in length and pushed straight into the soil to a depth of about 2.5 cm. For leaf production only, planting should be done 0,2 m x 0,5 m and for leaves and fruit it should be 4 m x 4 m.
Baobabs can be propagated from seeds as well as vegetatively.
Vegetative propagation involves the growth of a new tree from a shoot, bud or cutting from a good-quality mature tree. The trees have traditionally been propagated by transplanting naturally regenerated seedlings.
Wild baobab Tree
Organic and mineral fertilisers can be used and it is recommended to use farmyard manure, compost or green legume manures, especially at the time of planting for intensive leaf production.
The volume of water required varies with the size of the tree and is dependent on local climate. In general, during establishment, about 1 l to 2 l of water should be applied twice a week to the base of each young tree. The small trees can be irrigated regularly to produce higher returns from intensive leaf production and better growth. Mature baobab trees require no irrigation.
The weeds should be removed from around the tree during the early stages of growth.
Disease and pest control
Few small baobabs are ever seen nowadays because they fall victim to grazing by cattle and goats, ground fires, or picking by overzealous individuals (for soup leaves) but mature trees have few enemies. Neither cattle nor goats do serious harm. Not even overzealous pickers can seemingly set back a healthy old baobab. There are no serious pests and diseases of baobab. However, some fungal and viral diseases have been recorded and several insects attack the wood, fruit and young shoots. The most investigated common pests are:
• cotton bollworms Heliothis armigera, Diparopsis castanea and Earias biplaga;
• cotton-stainers (bugs) such as Dysdercus fasciatus, D. intermeius, D. nigrofasciatus, D. suberstitiosus,
Odontopus exsanguinis, O. sexpunctatus; • Oxycarenus albipennis as well as fl ea beetles, Podagrica spp.
The newly emerged larvae feed on the leaf and foliage of the plants. Cotton bollworms tunnel into the fruits of the baobab. They suck the sap of the leaves and young foliage.
The immature fruit drops.
Registered chemical fertilisers are recommended for use. A decoction of the kernels of Azadirachta indica (neem) can be used for insect control. Weeding can also be used as a control measure.
The baobab is a host for members of the Pseudococcoidae, the mealybugs, which can be vectors for virus diseases of cocoa and the cocoa capsid, Distantiella theobroma. In the Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces of South Africa, a caterpillar, Gonimbrasia herlina, can feed on the leaves.
The caterpillar sucks the sap of the leaflets, mature and tender shoots, leaf petiole bases and young foliage. The
immature fruit drops. Chlorotic leaves and defoliation can be observed. The caterpillar feeds on the leaves.
The affected parts should be removed. The caterpillars can be removed by hand and crushed.
The age of trees when leaves can be harvested for processing into leaf powder is variable and mainly depends essentially on site conditions. Trees can be harvested from any age. In general, leaf utilisation could start before the sixth year when site conditions are favourable. Women traditionally start harvesting when leaves begin to develop and the period varies according to agroecological zones (April to May). Mass leaf harvesting is done in September and October. The bark is also harvested at the same time as the leaves. The fruit is harvested when the shell is brown, between December and April. The tools used in harvesting the leaves are the sickle and dolé. Harvesting by hand picking is done less frequently since it is difficult to climb a baobab tree.
Baobab provides food, emergency water and fibre. It has also medicinal uses. Fibre from the stringy inner bark provides items (or is used for items) such as rope, thread, basket, nets, snares, fishing lines, strings for musical instruments, and a paper stock tough enough for banknotes. The fibre is even used for weaving. Some is woven into fabrics that are valued for making the bags used for carrying and storing everyday goods. Baobab trees supply food and traditional medicines for both humans and their livestock.
A refreshing drink, prepared from the pale yellow or whitish fruit pulp called cream of tartar, has been used to treat fevers, diarrhea and apparently also haemoptysis. The leaves are used against fever, to reduce perspiration and as an astringent. They also come in hardy in treating other afflictions: asthma, kidney and bladder diseases, insect bites, fevers, malaria and sores.
In the Limpopo Province the powdered seeds are given to children as a hiccup remedy. Under survival stress man can use many parts of the baobab as food or obtain water from its roots, branches or leaves. A crude, coffee-like beverage can be prepared by baking the baobab seeds. Many people find shelter from the blistering sun in the ample shade provided by its sturdy trunk. Young leaves when mixed with pepper and salt and added to a stew give it a good taste.
Young, fresh leaves are cut into pieces and cooked into a sauce. Sometimes the leaves are dried and powdered and used for cooking.
Learn more about the Baobab tree in African landscape
The baobab tree (Adansonia digitata) is a common sight in Malawi’s varied and lush landscape. Standing sentinel, the trees seem ancient, immovable landmarks that connect the present with the past. Not necessarily beautiful, the trees look odd, even upside down, as their often bare limbs stretch out like a complicated root system. The bark is tough, steel gray with wrinkles like elephant hide. The trees grow to massive size and girth and virtually every tree has a unique silhouette and numerous scars that remain permanently ingrained in the bark. Baobab trees are the subjects of legends and spiritual stories, while scientists continue to try and better understand what makes them grow and thrive.
Humans have benefitted from baobabs for generations. Each part of the tree can be used for a wide range of products, such as fishing nets, cords and rope, mats, containers, cloth, hats, and shoes, and the bark has even been used for elephant saddles. The bark, wood, seeds, piths, and leaves offer great medicinal value and have been used in traditional medicine to cure asthma, dysentery, diarrhea, colic, eye infections, malaria, fatigue, fever, inflammation, ear aches, tumors, kidney and digestive problems, as well as open wounds. Because baobab trees are mostly hollow, people have also used the inside of the trees for all sorts of purposes, making them into shops, bars, stables, a dairy, a bus shelter, prisons, postboxes, burial sites, wells, and even a flush lavatory.
The Baobab tree in African landscape
The baobab tree is synonymous with the African landscape. One can find the resilient baobabs surviving in even the most unforgiving landscapes: on rocky outcrops, high on mountains, and deep in deserts. Usually solitary, the trees survive droughts, aggressive elephants, and human contact. Despite their massive size and unusual shape, they rely on a system of hydraulic pressure to stay upright, as the porous wood retains water. The trees have extensive root systems that remain close to the surface. Remarkably immune to destruction, those trying to clear a tract of bushland in Tanzania after World War II used bulldozers, military tanks, and even tried dynamite, but failed to move the largest of the baobab trees.
The first recorded description of a baobab tree was written by Ibn Battuta. Born in 1304 in Tangiers, Battuta traveled throughout Africa and was fascinated by the unique specimen. From then on, travelers have remarked on the extraordinary size and strange form of the trees. David Livingstone’s companion, Thomas Baines, wrote that one tree in particular was “10 times the span of my extended arms, or perhaps, nearly 50 feet.” David Livingstone also recorded the circumference of several baobabs during his expeditions and even carved his initials into the trees along his routes. One can find traces of others doing the same, including the Green brothers, a pair of Canadian hunters who carved “Green’s Expedition 1858, 9″ into a baobab that is still standing in South Africa.
Scientists have not agreed upon an equation to determine a baobab’s age by its size. E.R. Swart published his study in 1963 that used carbon dating to determine that a baobab specimen with a radius of 2.28 meters was 1,010 years old. In Malawi, many say that for every meter of circumference, the tree is a hundred years old. The largest tree on record since scientists began a registry in the 1980′s, has a 25 meter circumference and is 33 meters tall. In South Africa, owners of a baobab tree claim that it is the largest in the world, with a circumference of 46.8 meters. While it is difficult to determine exact age without carbon dating, it is clear that these monolithic trees look and feel permanent. The Prussian explorer Friedrich von Humboldt described baobabs as the “oldest organic monuments of our planet.”
Baobabs are so much a fixture of the landscape that they were even used in the formal treaty that demarcated the border between Kenya and Tanganyika in 1900. The agreement reads that “on the high bank the boundary goes from the baobab at No 5 past a second baobab to a third baobab.”
With such a rich and varied landscape, it is easy to take these behemoth trees for granted. In Malawi, these trees are part of the history of the land, the culture of the people, and add to the beauty and mystery of the African panorama.
Baobab is a magical fruit! The latest find in the superfood world – outdoing the amazing properties of even the goji berry – and is widely considered to be the king of all superfruits.
The baobab tree is native to Madagasgar, Australia and most famously, Africa where it is known as ‘the tree of life’. It is also referred to as dead-rat tree (from the appearance of the fruits), monkey-bread tree (the soft, dry fruit is edible), upside-down tree (the sparse branches resemble roots) and cream of tartar tree!
Baobab is rich in macronutrients, antioxidants, carotenoids, flavonoids, vitamins B2 & 3 and essential minerals. It contains twice as much calcium as milk, ten times the antioxidant level of oranges – as well as three times the vitamin C – and four times as much potassium as bananas. The seed and pulp are also excellent sources of magnesium, thiamin and phosphorous.
The baobab tree has iconic status in mythology. It has been claimed that baobab has been grown since the time of the Great Flood 4000 years ago, however, science dates them as having begun growing 1000 years ago. The bark of the tree is self regenerating and in some parts of Africa, babies are wash in stewed bark to give them strength.
Baobab is a magical fruit!
Most parts of the tree can be used. The bark can be used to make rope and the trunk is hollow and can store thousands of gallons of water that can be extracted during drought. It also acts as a home to bats and snakes, and even humans. Famously, a district commissioner in Zambia once set up his office inside a baobab tree and a tree still standing in Western Australia was used to imprison Aboriginal convicts in the 1890s.
Baobab is a sticky powdery fruit encased in a hard outer shell. It has a taste similar to citrus and sherbert. In its native counties, baobab is used in a variety of ways, most often the seeds are roasted to make coffee and the fruit mixed with water to form lemonade or made into a jam that has a tart flavor, like lemon curd and a gritty texture like pear. The leaves can be eaten as relish or soup and the seeds used to produce edible oil which is also used in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries. Baobab is not an easily edible fruit in its natural state. Along with the difficulty of shipping, this means that baobab is most often found in Europe already powdered, ready to be used as a superfood addition to smoothies and juices or as an ingredient in raw or cooked dishes.
‘Most nutrionally amazing’ baobab coming to fancy food show
Recently, a chef who designs recipes for giant food companies like Kraft and General Mills was dumbfounded after analyzing a cream-colored powder provided to him by the USAID West Africa Trade Hub.
“It’s the most nutritionally amazing natural product I’ve ever seen,” he said.
He had discovered baobab, which is aptly called a “superfruit.” With over five times as many antioxidants as pomegranate and over seven times the fiber of leading superfruits, acai and gogi berry baobab is starting to make a big impression on brands looking for functional, healthy, and delicious ingredients.
The Baobab tree
The possibilities are endless. An artisanal chocolatier reported exciting results.
“We used baobab in a truffle that we call Le Petit Prince,” said Leslie Berliant, founder of Le Marais Chocolat, an organic Fair Trade Certified chocolate truffle company based in CA. The truffle has been a hit.
“I wanted to work with baobab because of its folklore and nutritional properties,” she added. “But ultimately taste is what matters most to our customers and that’s what’s sold me.”
Baobab has a delicate sweet and citrusy taste best described as grapefruit sherbet.
“Once you try it, it speaks for itself,” said Dave Goldman, founder of Atacora Essential, a baobab producer in Benin who recently connected with several interested natural food brands at the Natural Products Expo.
This year 15 African Specialty Food companies will showcase their products at the largest food and beverage show in North America. When it comes to marketing quality products, success comes down to location and timing. The Fancy Food Show, which runs from June 16-19th, offers the best of both – creating a great opportunity for African food manufacturers to connect to the world’s largest buyers.
While the economic slowdown has hurt the dining out business, consumer’s taste for high-end, luxury cuisine has not subsided. According to Mintel’s State of the Specialty Food Industry Report, sales of specialty food in retail outlets including mainstream natural, and specialty supermarkets grew 12% during 2008-10, to nearly $56 billion .
Consumers are getting creative – looking to replicate dining-out experiences at home. They are drawing inspiration from TV shows like the Food Network and Travel Channel to go beyond fine dining to experimenting with new, ethnic cuisines. This helps explain why a recent survey of importers found that the majority reported sales of over 20% in the last 3 years.
In addition to building interest for ethnic products, these cooking shows have also increased demand for healthy and sustainable foods . Over the past few years nuts, seeds, dried fruit and trail mixes have grown 31% – the fastest growing segment after yogurt. This trend is promising for West African exporters’ efforts to enter the U.S. market: the majority of African specialty foods are comprised of natural and organic dried fruits, nuts, seeds, and grains.
So what are some of the hot new products buyers can expect to see coming out of West Africa this year? In addition to exotic jams, sauces, and spices that offer an exciting twist to mainstream staples – there is growing interest for baobab. If you’re from the U.S. you’ve probably only heard of it if you’ve read the Little Prince, however, Africans have been eating it for centuries. If Western consumers had known about its existence before it would have been on the market a long time ago.
Baobab is also being recognized as an effective, natural ingredient for weight management (one of the largest growing segments in the specialty foods sector).
Sold on the health benefits, companies have been asking “how does it taste?” About a month ago, the USAID Trade Hub conducted a series of taste tests with health conscious consumers. They compared the taste of baobab fruit powder with acai, goji, maca root and pomegranate powder . The results were clear and compelling: baobab ranked #1 among the highest number of consumers.
Looking at the progression of other superfruits into the mainstream, Baobab is where acai was about 10 years ago. However, with a bit more marketing backbone, baobab could be hitting the mainstream in the next couple years. In the meantime if you want all those natural fibers, vitamins, and antioxidants with a taste of grapefruit sherbet, start pushing your favorite brands to add it to their lines.
Baomix : the extraordinary benefits of the baobab fruit pulp
The baobab tree (Adansonia digitata L) is a member of the Bombacaceae family and a genus of eight species of tree. The baobab is widely distributed through the savannas and drier regions of Africa but it is also common in America, India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, China and Jamaica.
The generic name honours Michel Adanson, the French naturalist who described Adansonia for the first time. Digitata refers to the fingers of a hand, which the leaflets bring to mind.
The tree is also commonly called the upside-down tree, bottle tree, and monkey-bread tree. The trees reach heights of 20 metres with a trunk 10 metres in diameter and branches 50 metres in diameter.
The baobab has long been an important source of human nutrition. Indigenous peoples traditionally use the leaves, bark, roots, fruit and seeds as foodstuffs, as well as in medicines for humans and animals.
Fruit harvesting and production process
Upon pollination by fruit bats, the tree produces large green or brownish fruits which are capsules and characteristically indehiscent (they don’t open to release fruit). The capsules contain a soft, whitish, powdery pulp and kidney-shaped seeds.
All baobab fruit used in our production comes from Senegal. The fruits are collected right in Senegal’s driest regions, under the supervision of expertly-qualified professionals. We focus our activity on abundant species of baobab, whose fruit can be collected with minimal environmental impact. Consequently, the fruits and seeds are the main parts of the plant that are collected, rather than the roots or bark of a particular species.
We use a simple, exclusively mechanical process to obtain the fruit pulp. After the fruit is harvested, the hard outer shell of the fruit is cracked open and the contents are removed. The seeds are then separated from the fibrous material and mesocarp. This is screened to remove further unwanted fibrous and flaky material, leaving a fine mesocarp powder (fruit pulp). Finally, the food grade powder is milled and packaged.
Baomix organic Baobab fruit pulp
Vitamins and minerals
Baobab fruit is known for its high content of ascorbic acid (vitamin C); specifically, 100 g of wet pulp contains up to 300 mg of vitamin C, approximately six times more than the ascorbic acid content of one orange or lemon.
The fruit also contains other essential vitamins, such as vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin or PP).
In addition, the fruit contributes to the supply of other important dietary nutrients, such as minerals. 100 g of wet pulp contains about 300 mg of calcium, 3000 mg of potassium and 30 mg of phosphorus.
Suggested intake — 5-15g per day. Use baobab as a perfect addition to your desserts and smoothies. It is also excellent for dipping fruit into to add a little bit of extra scrummyness.
What are the Baobab leaves health benefits, and their medicinal properties?
Baobab is a drought-tolerant plant found in the savannas of Africa. They are highly noted for their ability to store huge volumes of water inside their hollow trunks, reaching up to 30 000 gallons of water to survive during dry season, particularly in Sahara, Namib and Kalahari desserts in Africa. This tree is very versatile and is well-regarded by the local peoples since majority of its parts can be used in some capacity. Baobab leaves in particular have so many uses, either as food sources or as herbal medicines for different forms of illnesses. Young leaves, which can either be simple or palmate in shape, are picked and eaten raw like spinach.
The Baobab leaf can also be dried and pulverized into either fine or coarse powder. This powder is mixed in their stews or soups as thickeners. To add to that, the powdered leaves are both used as thickeners and flavoring for couscous.
In Senegal, more and more people are producing powdered Baobab leaves. In fact, the country is already one of the biggest Baobab powder producers, making powders that are commonly used as an ingredient for exotic African cuisine. Many locals even pollard the tree in order to promote new growth of young leaves and large land areas are planted with Baobab for the sole purpose of getting their leaves. Pollarding is also done on old Baobab trees which are already hollow inside to prevent them from turning heavy on top and fall over. Old leaves are grazed by stocks and used as a special food for horses.
The Baobab leaves health benefits, medicinal properties
The fresh leaves contain high amounts of Vitamin C as well as other nutritional elements such as alpha and beta carotenes, rhamnose, uronic acids, tannins, potassium, calcium, catechins, tartrate, glutamic acid, mucilage and other sugars.
Therapeutically, the Baobab leaves have several benefits and are packed with medicinal properties to treat common illnesses. Baobab acts as an expectorant for cough, diaphoretic and anti-pyretic. It is also an astringent and relieves excessive perspiration. Also, the leaves can treat certain forms of allergy with their anti-histamine and hyposensitive properties. They can treat asthma, fatigue, inflammations, insect bites, kidney and gallbladder diseases and dracunculiasis – a form of parasitic worm infection that only occurs in Africa. Powdered Baobab leaf poultices are also used to treat sores.
Drying the leaves is a common practice among the people in Africa. They are typically sundried, powdered and cooked daily for family sauce. Application of proper drying method is essential to preserve its Vitamin A level. The Vitamin A content of Baobab leaves often depends on the different tree type, the drying method and the processing method. When drying leaves, it is recommended to apply shade drying to double its ProVitamin A content rather than direct sun drying. The Vitamin A is also boosted by choosing ideal small leaves. In Mali, the leaves are harvested greatly during the end of the rainy season (late October) or before the leaves fall out. The leaves are a staple ingredient in cooking in Africa. It is locally known as kuka and commonly used in making kuka soup. The leaves are used throughout the continent in Africa as leaf vegetable.