Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Baobab: a Billion dollar tree to change the lives of rural India

In India, Mango tree is planted once and reap the fruits every year. Its tasty fruits are also very much nutritious. This is the reason, the whole world is looking for importing this fruit. I am talking about another tree which is planted once and you can reap its benefits forever. How is it possible?

During my childhood, in our school lessons, I learnt that every part of Coconut trees can be used one way or the other. Now what I believe is that next generation kids will learn a new tree named, African "Baobab tree" whose every part (fruits, seeds, leaves, bark, timber etc) are much more useful than any other tree you heard of.

Yes, Baobab is a multipurpose tree and known for its swollen, hollow trunk which is most commonly used for waterstorage. The hollow trunk is also reported to be used as a tomb in West Africa for griot and the leprous.  This baobab tree's exotic fruit (6 to 8 inches, or 15 cm to 20 cm long) contain the fresh pulp (tangy, sub-acid flavour) which has twice as much calcium as milk, is high in anti-oxidants, iron and potassium, and has 6 times the vitamin C of an orange. It tastes similar to Jack fruit and so, can be processed into jams, juices and wines. Pulp can also used as a substitute for cream of tartar and moreover to curdle milk. The leaves are rich in ß carotene, and contain a significant amount of amino acids and several trace elements. These leaves can be eaten as relish, while the fruit dissolved in milk or water can be used as a drink. The seeds can be eaten fresh, dried or roasted and can also be used as a coffee substitute. The seeds produce edible oil and has a light, golden colour with a nuttyaroma and a long shelf-life.  The oil can also be used in cosmetics (including bath oil, lotions and creams) taking advantage of its natural moisturising effects. Oil-cake can be used for feeding cattle. The dried bark is used for the manufacturing of packing paper. Strong inner fibre from the bark can also be used in rope making, cordage, harness straps, strings for musical instruments, baskets, nets, snares, fishing lines and cloth. Its timber can be used for making canoes and fishing floats.  In fact, all parts of the tree are having medicinal properties.

The Baobab tree averages 25 m in height and 6-10 m in diameter.  The root system of a mature tree penetratesthe soil to a depth of approximately 2 m. It is drought hardy, fire resistant and prefers areas with a high water table.  It grows in arid, semi-arid and sub-humid tropical climates. Most interesting part is that the lifespan of these trees is about 3000 years (yes, you read correctly).  The tree is easy and cheap to cultivate and free from any serious pests and diseases. The tree provides shade, cooling the soil beneath the canopy. Deciduous leaf drop acts as a soilconditioner by providing a humus-rich top layer, improving watermoisture content and protecting the soil against erosion. In general, the fruits abscise late in the rainy season, but may persist on thetree for several months. Ripe pods, however, can be stored unopened or uncracked for a number of months inhumid climates, without refrigeration. The trees will bear pods after 8-23 years. The tree can be planted for reduction of soil erosion and to provide a habitat for many native animals, birds and reptiles.

Now coming to business part,  Rajasthan or Indian government can promote this fruit as food security for our nation. It is expected to become a billion dollar industry and also recently European union has approved the extract of the baobab fruit as an ingredient in foods in the European market. 

Although it appears that Baobab is not grown commercially in large plantations and to be planted as an isolated tree, I think modern research would look into it in order to make imperative to whole human kind. What do you say?

15 comments:

gaddeswarup said...

You may be righr. After seeing this post, i googled 'baobab tree in india' and find it does grow well in parts of India ans is useful. See
http://www.phytotradeafrica.com/downloads/news/SDI-APRIL-2007-baobab.pdf
http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/F36993?thread=310766
May be you can bring it to the attention people in agricultural universities. I understand that one alapati Satyanarayana from Acharya N.G. Ranga Agricultural University has been enthusiastical pursuing DRI (System of Rice Intensification) even though it was not his speciality after attending a conference. Perhaps some such person can assess the possibilities.

Barli Development Institute for Rural Women said...

Dear Malpati,
very interesting,
Many of these trees grow at Mandu fort dear Dhar in Madhya Pradesh, and there are a few growing around indore, but I have not saw them anywhere else. the locals at Mandu call it bari imli, Now I will get some seed to plant at our Institute.
I read all you posts, I have a link to your blog on our institutes blog
well done, itis agreat work you do
Jimmy

Malapati Raja Sekhar said...

Hello Prof.Swarup,

I think it has to catch some entrepreneur's eyes who would then contact agriculture specialists and scale this as a national level project.

Malapati Raja Sekhar said...

Dear Jimmy,

Thanks for the local information. Good to hear abot Barli institute and your work.

Thanks,
Raja

Champion Kickah said...

http://in.truveo.com/Baobab-trees-are-facing-extinction-in-India/id/692269179

sunil said...

Amazing information. Thanks a lot

arkay said...

in madurai(tamilnadu ) there is three trees in agoverment building.

arkay said...

in madurai(tamilnadu)there are three numbers of baobab tree in a goverment building

Damitr Mazanov said...

There are a few of them growing along the western coast, especially where there was Portuguese influence. A few can be found in Mumbai at TIFR Colony in Culaba, Queen's Garden Byculla. And most number of them at Vasai fort, north of Mumbai. You can see some of photos of the Baobab trees at Vasai fort at :

http://me-damitr.blogspot.in/2008/03/aim-to-do-vasai-bassien-and-arnala.html

Elixir of life said...

Great post ... a recent visit to the unique Parijaat tree made me blog (http://betweensaneinsane.blogspot.in/2013/01/paarijaat-parichay.html?showComment=1359541913552#c2460531600558770010) research on baobab trees and I stumbled on your post and I think it can be a great idea if implemented and boost the economy of rural India .. Glad to have found this post..and your blog!

Elixir of life said...

Great post ... a recent visit to the unique Parijaat tree made me blog (http://betweensaneinsane.blogspot.in/2013/01/paarijaat-parichay.html?showComment=1359541913552#c2460531600558770010) research on baobab trees and I stumbled on your post and I think it can be a great idea if implemented and boost the economy of rural India .. Glad to have found this post..and your blog!

Elixir of life said...

Hi after a recent visit to the Parijaat tree in Barabanki which is a unique male baobab tree I blogged(
http://betweensaneinsane.blogspot.in/2013/01/paarijaat-parichay.html?showComment=1359541913552#c2460531600558770010) and researched on baobab trees and came across your blog .

Very informative article and a great innovative idea which if implemented can boost rural economy . Glad to have found this blog !

Elixir of life said...

Hi after a recent visit to the Parijaat tree in Barabanki which is a unique male baobab tree I blogged(
http://betweensaneinsane.blogspot.in/2013/01/paarijaat-parichay.html?showComment=1359541913552#c2460531600558770010) and researched on baobab trees and came across your blog .

Very informative article and a great innovative idea which if implemented can boost rural economy . Glad to have found this blog !

rsrawat47 said...

How can one get a sapling of Baobab & at what cost?
Rawat

Anonymous said...

How can one get a sapling of Baobab & at what cost?
Rawat