Money sadly doesn’t grow on trees. However, what does grow on trees can earn a person quite a bit of money, if there is a market for it. An icon of the African savanna, the baobab tree is well-established in varied ecosystems. The fruit and leaves of the baobab are very nutritious and easily cultivated, even in dry environments where traditional agriculture is not possible. Despite enormous potential, there is not yet a global market for baobab. London-based Aduna aspires to create such a market as a means to alleviate poverty and empower rural African communities.
Enclosed in pods like cacao fruit, the baobab fruit tastes like strawberry sherbet and is used in jams and juice or dried in stews and sauces. The leaves can be eaten fresh, dried in sauces, or crumbled and used as a condiment. Both the leaves and fruit contain a plentiful amount of vitamin C, calcium, and other essential nutrients, which can be life-saving when there is little else available to eat. Baobab leaves and fruit are also easy to transport when dry, which are ideal qualities for a market crop.
While African towns and cities fuel a local baobab trade, Aduna creator Andrew Hunt has his sights set on establishing a global market, one that is estimated to potentially be worth at least $1 billion. According to Hunt, “There is no such thing as a baobab plantation; every tree is community-owned and wild-harvested.” A social entrepreneur, Hunt has seen an enormous opportunity in baobab and hopes to create demand for the underutilized natural product .
For example, in Zimbabwe, 60 tons of of baobab are currently exported, 60 tons are consumed in the local market while 20,000 tons are currently going to waste. Aduna aspires to sell the baobab bounty that is currently rotting and funnel the profits back into local communities. If Aduna is successful in their promotion of baobab as the hot new superfood, one can hopefully look forward to sipping fair-trade Pepsi Baobab or a baobab-enhanced beer, ideally in the shade of a big tree.