Wednesday, December 17

Europe Recognizes Health Benefits of Baobab Fruit

 In Senegal, villagers have always known about the health benefits of baobab fruit, which only now have been discovered by Europe in what could spell magic for localities like Fandene.

The ancient, hardy species also known as the "tree of life" is scattered across the African savannah, some said to date back to the time of Christ.
Locals use and benefit from nearly every part of the tree, whose processed fruit has been approved for import into Europe.

You use the monkey bread fruit if you have a belly ache," said farmer Aloyse Tine, using the local name for baobab fruit. "If you're tired you eat the leaves, they are good for you."
The seeds can be pressed to extract oil used for cooking and the bark can be used to make ropes. In the past, the hollow bark was also used to bury "griots", a special West African cast of poets, musicians and sorcerers.

Three years ago, he started selling instead to the Baobab Fruit Company, a Senegalese firm run by three Italians. It is the country's only industrialised producer of dried baobab fruit pulp, which it exports for use in cosmetics and certain dietary supplements. The new income has already made changes. It "allows me to send my kids to school," he said.
"Opening the European market to the benefits of this product will make a real difference to poor rural communities there, offering them a potentially life-changing source of income."
One of these is Thiawe Thiawe, where 41-year-old Delphine farms some 20 baobab trees scattered outside her house.
"I've collected the fruits since I was a little girl with my grandmother," she told AFP. Like Tine, her life is a little easier since she started selling to the Baobab Fruit company rather than hawking her own goods. "It's better to sell here than there, you don't have to wear yourself out going to Thies."
But what can baobab fruit, also known as monkey's bread, bring in the way of benefits to health-conscious Europe
According to the International Centre for Underutilized Crops at the University of Southhampton, the baobab is "a fruit of the future", rich in vitamin C, B1, B2 and calcium and chock-full of 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. Some scientists calculate the fruit has three times as much vitamin C as oranges and has more calcium than a glass of milk.

And the tree is well adapted to arid conditions, tolerating both drought and poorly drained soil, and is fire resistant. Also known as the "upside down tree" for its bulbous trunk and spindly branches that look like roots, it can grow to be hundreds if not thousands of years old.

A study for PhytoTrade Africa conducted by the Natural Resources Institute in Britain suggested that wild harvesting of baobab fruit could generate trade of up to one billion dollars (640 million euros) a year for African producers.
Wild Harvest Pharma
Gambia W.Africa

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