Opportunities abound in organic farming


At one time, it was reported that Binga communities were fighting over baobab roots with baboons as hunger plagued the area.

That was six to eight years ago, when communities still didn’t know how to add value to their baobab products.

Tree of life

Research on the nutritional composition of African baobab by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF) found that it is high in carbohydrates (energy) , fiber, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium and potassium.

Over the years, the community has developed various products from the baobab, of course with the help of various non-governmental organizations.

One of them is the Academy of Organic Agriculture which has intrigued and electrified Binga with information, workshops and training on how best to live from what has been called the “tree of life”. “.

While Zimbabwe boasts of good baobab cover, the forests have been converted to farmland as many farmers are unaware of its nutritional and economic value.

The tree is found in the driest, drought-affected parts of the country, which researcher Barbara Stadlmayr says makes them even more valuable to those regions because the trees “yield even when staple crops fail and fill thus the hunger gap during periods”. of food shortage. »

The biggest news for the community is that they can now reproduce the tree, or better yet plant it.

Uses

The fruit is ground into a powder where it is used for various purposes.

It can be used as a meal for cooking porridge and sadza. Others use it as coffee.

More developed countries like Germany have gone further to produce various products, especially oils and ornaments, as they believe the baobab tree has medicinal properties.

In fact, almost every part of the highly valued baobab tree is useful.

The wood is used for heating and lumber. Baobab is also used for medicinal purposes. The fruit powder is believed to fight fevers and calm the stomach.

The powdery, tart substance found inside the fruit shell is used to make a refreshing and nutritious drink, or added to sauces to create flavor complexity and improve nutritional value.

The seeds can be roasted and ground for use in a drink, pounded to extract oil, fermented for use as a flavoring, roasted as a snack, or used to thicken soups.

The leaves are cooked fresh as a vegetable, made into relish, or dried and ground for later use in recipes during the dry season. Young tree shoots can be eaten like asparagus.

The tree has been used to provide food, water, shelter and medicine to Africans for millennia. Typically reaching a height of 25 meters, large baobabs can reach up to 28 meters in circumference and appear to grow upside down.

The baobab bears large, heavy, white flowers that bloom in the late afternoon and fall within 24 hours.

The carrion smell of these flowers attracts fruit bats, which act as the main pollinator of the trees.

Found in the dry, hot climates of sub-Saharan Africa, baobab fruits are widely believed to store water in their stems.

Market

The Organic Agriculture Academy offers training on certification, such as organic agriculture (NOP and EU), FairTrade and FairWild, as well as access and benefit sharing, agriculture as a business and community development training.

Those who complete their rigorous training sessions will be exposed to export markets as they will be equipped with the skills to spot and grade a baobab fruit that can fetch big bucks in the market.

Gwabanayi is a practicing journalist and a farmer in his own right. — 0772 865 703 or [email protected]

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