Wednesday, August 13, 2008



Aug. 12 (GIN) - In Senegal, villagers have always known about the health benefits of baobab fruit. The ancient, hardy species known as the "tree of life" is scattered across the African savannah and some are said to date back to the time of Christ.

Locals use nearly every part of the tree, whose processed fruit was approved for European import last month.

"I don’t think anyone yet knows what the potential size of this new export niche will be," wrote blogger Chido Makunike of African Agriculture, "although the phrase “billion dollar industry” has been thrown about."

You use the monkey bread fruit if you have a belly ache," said farmer Aloyse Tine, using the local name. "If you're tired you eat the leaves, they are good for you."

According to the International Centre for Underutilised Crops at the University of Southhampton, the baobab is "a fruit of the future", rich in vitamin C, B1, B2 and calcium and anti-oxidants.

In Senegal, its pulp is mostly used to make Bouye, a milky, tart juice made by boiling the pulp and seeds with water and sugar.

"But being a non-cultivated forest product, who “owns” the baobab fruit?" asks Makunike. "Can anybody just take a truck into the forest, collect the fruit and export it? Obviously the sudden dramatic change in the
economic importance of the baobab will open up many questions that will need regulation."

"Countries will have to take steps to ensure that the new interest in baobab will not cause over-exploitation or misuse; to make sure that harvesting is done in a sustainable way."

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