Can this tree provide income for 10 million Africans?

aduna baobab campaign photo
© Aduna

TreeHugger tends to dig trees.

From the pioneering work of Tree Aid in Africa to the potential of evergreen agriculture, we particularly dig trees that can help empower poor and marginalized communities.

The baobab may be one of those trees.

As detailed in this Tree Aid blog post from my friend Sarah Moore, the fruits and leaves of the baobab tree are extremely nutrient dense and versatile, while the tree is resilient as all hell—living for hundreds of years and withstanding the extreme temperatures and droughts of the drylands climate.

Aduna, a London-based social enterprise, is working to empower rural populations by creating a global market for baobab. According to Aduna founder Andrew Hunt, National Geographic has estimated that trade in baobab-related products could create a market worth $1bn for rural Africans.

Of course no market is without its downsides, especially when a traditional staple and cultural mainstay is in question. Heaven knows enough has been written about whether the global quinoa trade has helped or hurt the communities that rely on it. Yet Aduna is adamant that this crucial resource is currently so underutilized that its fruits primarily go to waste:

There is no such thing as a baobab plantation; every tree is community-owned and wild-harvested. An estimated 8-10 million households can supply this fruit from a crop that already exists and currently goes predominantly to waste. Many people have never heard of baobab. If that changed and baobab became a sustainable industry [...] That’s why Aduna is on a mission to MAKE BAOBAB FAMOUS.

Aduna is currently a semi-finalist in Virgin's Pitch to Rich business competition. You can vote here.

Can this tree provide income for 10 million Africans?
I tend to be skeptical about superfood trends but if they can help empower the rural poor, I am all ears.

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