How the baobab sector developed – a case study report

This case study report summarises the  commercial development of the baobab (Adansonia digitata) from an emerging sector to having become a mature industry over the past 20 years. Its path can serve as a guide for the commercial development of other indigenous plant species for export. 

In the baobab sector the non-profit trade association PhytoTrade has played a crucial catalysing role for developing the export sector, securing product registrations and developing consumer and retailer awareness to drive the demand for baobab products. In this report you will learn more about how baobab powder became a novel food in the European market in particular and how this was the main driver of the sector’s development. 


Read the full report here.

BAOQUALITY project presented at World Forestry Congress in Seoul

Project leader Prof. Dietrich Darr from Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences presented the work under the BAOQUALITY project at the XV World Forestry Congress 2022 in Seoul, South Korea.


The World Forestry Congress is one of the most influential conference in forestry. It serves as the global platform to issue recommendations and declarations on major forest issues worldwide. This year’s theme was “Building a Green, Healthy and Resilient Future with Forests”.

Prof. Darr’s talk was part of the side event ‘Framework to Expedite Transition to Bioeconomy with Nonwood Forest Products’, hosted by IUFRO, the Forest History Society and the US Forest Service.


Prof. Darr used the research under the BAOQUALITY project to demonstrate how baobab products, as example for nontimber forest products, can enhance the bioeconomy transition in Malawi. He highlighted the potential of baobab biomass to use as renewable energy source, showed the multiple baobab-based products currently in use and illustrated the potential for further high-value products. He discussed key challenges for the proliferation of baobab products and innovations, which are related to profitability, acceptance, environmental and social impact, value chain structure and functioning as well as policy and institutional support.  

Three new videos about baobab, its value chain and how it contributes to rural livelihood

Our partner from Baobab Exports has produced a few short videos to learn more about the baobab tree, its value chain and its crucial role as a basis for rural livelihood in Zimbabwe. 



The baobab tree can become as old as 2500 years and lives in the very dry areas of Africa and it is well-known for its very nutritious fruits.  


Behind the scenes at a baobab buying day: 

Starting at a buying centre in a remote rural area in North-Eastern Zimbabwe, Gus Le Breton  shows how the baobab fruits are collected, weighted and labelled to be transported to a cracking centre. Here the pulp is extracted from the woody outer shell and prepared for further transportation to the factory. 

Meet also Mechia Matsika, a Zimbabwean baobab fruit harvester. Baobab is her biggest source of cash income during the year. She spends the money that she earns from baobab harvesting to put her four children through school. Join her to learn how she collects baobab fruits in the forest, brings them back to her home for storage and sale.

With thanks for sharing the videos to Gus Le Breton

MSc students from JKUAT present Baoquality at Kiambu County Innovation Week, Kenya

Two of our MSc students from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), Kenya, Dennis Yegon and Margret James, were able to exhibit their work under the Baoquality project at the Kiambu County Youth Innovation and Entrepreneurship Week held from 23rd to 26th March 2022.

Kiambu County Innovation Week is a forum organized by Kenya’s national innovation agency with the goal of showcasing Kenyans’ innovativeness while also advancing the Big 4 agenda and vision. The event provided Kiambu county youths the chance to showcase their innovations and entrepreneurship ideas, as well as share challenges they are encountering, all while championing their innovative ideas and even beginning new business ventures.


The Baoquality team at JKUAT in Kenya (Prof. Willis Owino, Margaret James, and Dennis Yegon) was featured in the Agribusiness sector, where we support appropriate production standards and regulations inside firms while also fostering practical skills in applying safety standards. The HACCP development along the baobab pulp value chain was used as an example for the illustrations, with all stages of production explained, possible hazards identified, and control mechanisms supplied.

The team also displayed baobab products such as baobab fruits, powder, oils, and sweets (Mabuyus), among others, while also educating the public about the nutritional and strong health benefits associated with these products. The Baoquality team also shed light on the calibration of near-infrared (NIR) spectroscopy for non-invasive, fast, and onsite/online verification of the quality and authenticity of baobab raw materials and finished products.

                                                                         Photo credit: Willis Owino

Training of Trainers Workshop on Baobab Production, Utilization, Marketing and Quality Control procedures in Kilifi County, Kenya

From 2-10 August 2021, our project partner Wild Living Resources conducted a training of trainers workshop in Kilifi county, Kenya, on the production, use, marketing and quality control procedures of the baobab. In two sessions forty participants were trained to learn about traditional and modern products and uses of baobab, post-harvest processing and storage, nutritional value of baobab products and baobab standard operating procedures and quality control procedures. With the training of trainers approach, the expectation is that participants will train additional community members in the long-term in order to increase the baobab farmer community in the area.

Photo credits: Ben Banda

BAOQUALITY findings presented at Webinar series on Unlocking the Bioeconomy for Nontimber Forest Products

On 18 November Katie Meinhold presented her PhD research in the webinar series on Unlocking the Bioeconomy for Nontimber Forest Products. The webinar series is hosted by the International Union of Forest Research Organisations (IUFRO).


In her presentation Katie highlighted the potential of baobab fruit products for generating rural livelihood opportunities. She presented her findings about commercialization opportunities of baobab fruit products as exemplary nontimber forest products and shared lessons learnt from local and export markets. 


Her presentation can be watched here.

Impressions from the final fruit harvesting and pulp production activities in Mangochi, Malawi

The handling of the samples requires time and dedication to avoid contamination of the pulp. To adequately prepare the samples the fruits were brushed by using sandpaper so that the itchy fur won’t contaminate the pulp. It takes a lot of time, the extraction of the powder was only completed by the third day after sample collection.



Update from Baoquality research activities in Sudan

Intra household decision making in baobab (Adansonia digitata L.) products: Commercialization strategies in West and North Kordofan. A research project by Amna Alnour (MSc student from the University of Khartoum, Sudan). 

The main goal of this research is to assess the impact of intra household gendered decision making and access to institutional support on baobab commercialization strategies. For this, Amna has collected primary data in a field survey conducted in February 2021 und June 2021 by using a structured questionnaire, group discussions, interviews and direct observations.


Amna in February 2021 when she collected her first data.
Photos by Amna Alnour

The sample size was 230 households, 105 household from North Kordofan state, and 125 household heads from West Kordofan. 

The sampling unit in this study is the person who collects baobab or has someone at home collecting. 

So far the data collected was subjected to descriptive statistics to describe the socioeconomic profile of household heads (e.g. gender, age, educational level, or marital status), cash income from different activities (e.g. baobab resources, agriculture, animal production, wage labour, etc.), resource ownership, livelihood assets, and livelihood strategies. Further, to allow for comparative analysis, data relating to the quantities of Baobab products collected and sold was collected.

Baobab fruit

Baobab tree with flowers

This is in one of the villages in West Kordofan the student, Amna, visited.

HACCP development for baobab pulp value chain in Kenya

HACCP, which stands for ‘Hazard analysis and critical control points’, is a preventive approach commonly applied in the food industry. It aims to enhance food safety by identifying biological, chemical, and physical hazards in the production process that can cause the finished product to be unsafe and designs measures to reduce these risks to a safe level. A HACCP analysis was developed for the production of baobab fruit pulp in Kenya together with the enterprise Vokenel Ltd.

 Impressions from the training activities
with the Vokenel Enterprises LTD production team.

Hazard identification through the value chain.

The HACCP team went through the whole production process in order to identify the hazards during the collection of baobab fruit, the storage, and the processing of fruit to pulp and seed and update quality control procedures accordingly. 

Storage of the baobab fruit

Cracking of the baobab fruits after the training

Extracting baobab fruit pulp at Vokenel Ltd after the training

Photos by Margret James (MSc student JKUAT, Kenya)

Fruit sampling activities in Mangochi, Malawi

Baobab fruits have been sampled in Mangochi, Malawi to be able to check different quality parameters during the ripening process of the fruit. In total three harvesting trips were conducted (one per month) facilitated by project partner Zankhalango Association. Initially 15 trees were selected, from the ten most suitable trees fruit samples were collected.  

The harvesting starts with the sampling of the fruits from the huge baobab trees. The next step is to clean the fruits´ shell from all dirt and hairs, so that the pulp won’t be contaminated. Afterwards the pulp is extracted from the fruit and milled to powder as you can observe in the video. This powder is the basis for pulp testing in the laboratory.