Africa’s forgotten fruits hold great potential

Posted by Laura Grant on February 3, 2008
Posted in Food

baobab.jpgAfrica’s “lost fruit crops”, such as baobab and maroela, are an untapped resource that could be used to combat malnutrition and boost environmental stability, says a new report from the US National Research Council.

The maroela tree, for example, is a “nutritional powerhouse” which produces fruits that are high in vitamin C and nuts high in protein and minerals. Oils extracted from the nuts are used in high-priced skin care products.

The fruit of the baobab contains a pulp that can be dried into a powder high in protein, vitamins and minerals, the report says. “The powder is stirred into warm water or milk to create a healthy drink, and also beaten and dried into thin pancakes.”

The report says that fruit production in Africa is dominated by species introduced from Asia and the Americas, such as bananas, pineapples, and papayas, but with scientific and institutional support, Africa’s native fruits could make a much greater contribution to nutrition and economic development.

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