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BAOFOOD project goes from strength to strength

17 June 2016  •  Author(s): Victoria White, Digital Content Producer

BAOFOOD, a project dedicated to improving and ensuring the food supply in Eastern Africa through the unique baobab tree, is off to a successful start.

baofood

 

The research project is led by Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences and conducted in collaboration with research institutions, NGOs and industry in Germany, Kenya, Sudan, Malawi and the UK.

The baobab tree, also known as the monkey-bread-tree, is an iconic tree native to many regions of Africa. The fruits, leaves and other parts of the tree are not only edible, but are also loaded with important vitamins, trace minerals and antioxidants. In 2008 the dried pulp harvested from baobab fruit was first approved for sale in the European Union and has already seen a remarkable growth in popularity. But the true brilliance of the baobab tree isn’t in Europe, but rather in Eastern Africa regions suffering from poverty and underdevelopment. The baobab tree has to potential to make a permanent, positive contribution to the critical food supply situation in these regions as well as create a viable new economic industry for the local population. Until now, however, the commercial use of baobab-based products has been hindered by scarcity, inconsistent quality in plant materials, a lack of cultivation and processing technology, and underdeveloped market chains.

Unlocking the potential of baobab

This is where BAOFOOD comes in. Project researchers are searching for new solutions for the exploitation, processing and marketing of baobab products to unlock the potential of the baobab tree and ultimately ensure a steady and adequate food supply for the project region.

By scientifically assessing and documenting the geographical range of baobab tree species, researchers aim to preserve and protect the baobab tree as a natural resource, while at the same time developing viable recommendations for the sustainable cultivation and domestication of the baobab for commercial use. Researchers are also keen on both analysing and improving the nutritional value of baobab fruit through modern scientific methods and traditional processing techniques.

As a core objective is improving the living situation of people in the project region, researchers will also be investigating the effect of baobab products on the food supply and the economic situation of locals in order to predict how increased commercial use will impact the project region. The project will explore the market demand and potential for new baobab-based products. The ultimate goal is to then produce those products with the most demand in local production facilities.

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