Baobab superfruit boosts health and livelihoods

October 7, 2013
Author: Hannah

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If you haven’t come across baobab yet, you will soon. The superfruit is cropping up in all sorts of specialist foods and cosmetics, now that its health benefits – long-known in Africa – are being recognised by health-conscious Westerners.

The velvety green fruits contain a powder which has six times more vitamin C than an orange, and more calcium than a glass of milk – so it’s no wonder that people are starting to use it in everything from smoothies to curries.

Botanical illustration of a baobab fruit

Add to all this the fact that baobab already grows on trees in the African bush, and that its production encourages locals to look after them, and it sounds like a pretty sustainable crop.

We spoke to Rosby, a Malawian who travels on her motorbike from village to village, helping smallholders get this profitable new crop to market through local company TreeCrops...

Rosby Mthinda, from TreeCrops, on a motorbike in Malawi

The favourite part of my job is training suppliers

I know that knowledge is power, so if a lot of people know about what they can do with natural products, they can use them wisely and benefit.

Baobab is making a real difference to lives

I’ve seen many changes. Some people had poor houses and now they have much better ones. Some had no bicycles or domestic animals, but today they do. They can now educate their kids and feed their families.

Baobab is a wonderfully sustainable crop

The fruit powder is something that was just wasted before this market was introduced. But now people have something to do; they can go into the bush, harvest and sell. People had nothing before.

The fruit has helped with my calcium deficiency

I’d been advised by the doctor to buy a calcium supplement, but it’s very expensive. I started using baobab powder and everything bad I was feeling has gone away.

My tip is to drink it as juice

I drink the powder as a juice, adding water and a little sugar. If I have time, I add it to my porridge too.

Come and talk to Rosby at the Eden Project during our Baobab Festival (22-28 October 2014), find out more about Eden's work with baobab suppliers, or buy baobab products online.

Thank you to the Eden Florilegium for the illustration.

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