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Post by Richprins » Mon Sep 24, 2018 11:04 am

Villagers tap into trend for 'superfood' baobab

Monday 24 September 2018 - 8:34am


Annah Muvhali and Cristina Ndou hold baobab fruits they harvested in the village of Muswodi Dipeni in Limpopo.
Marco Longari

MUTALE - From before dawn, 54-year-old grandmother Annah Muvhali weaves between baobab trees that loom over her rural home, collecting fruit that enthusiasts worldwide hail as a "superfood".

About 1,000 women in the village of Muswodi Dipeni, in the northern province of Limpopo, earn a living by harvesting the furry, hard-shelled baobab fruit pods.

The seeds and chalky powder inside the pods have become a global health craze celebrated for their vitamin-packed properties and now used in everything from flavoured soda, ice cream and chocolate to gin and cosmetics.

"Before, I never knew there was any value in baobab. My family and I would eat the fruit simply because it makes a delicious yoghurt-like porridge that is nutritious and filling," Muvhali told AFP.

"I always use it for my grandchildren when their stomachs are troublesome."

Known locally as "baobab guardians", women like Muvhali also plant and nurture baobab saplings in their gardens and earn an income for each centimetre that the trees grow.

Sarah Venter, an ecologist who runs the Ecoproducts company behind the baobab cultivation, said the scheme rewarded women for their skills and care.

"They get paid a certain amount until the tree reaches three metres high and after that it will live for 1,000 years.

"It has a value chain where everybody benefits, including a rural person picking up something that's already in their environment and getting an income for it," Venter said.

The tree can take up to 200 years to bear fruit, but watering them every day can see that time reduced to 30 years. A tree then produces fruit annually for nearly 200 years.

Historically credited with mythical and spiritual powers in African folklore, the baobab is known as the "upside down tree", as its branches look like roots. ... ood-baobab
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