By William N-lanjerborr Jalulah
LAST YEAR, I suspended my attempts to explore the economic value of the baobab tree with a suggestion that the search for an everlasting solution to bridging the developmental gap between the North and the South could be a thing of the past, if all the natural resources, including the baobab tree, are identified, explored, and put to good use.
I also sought to suggest that if the value of the baobab tree is explored and put to good use, it could address the age-long anthem of “we have been deprived”, as it has always been said by the Northerner.
In my perspective, even if northerners have a justification for reciting this ‘anthem’, their natural resources were not, and have still not been confiscated by whoever the claimed might have deprived them of whatever they claim is theirs.
I stated that though some of these natural resources have been identified, explored, and utilised in times gone past, others seem to have either been ignored, or are yet to be identified and put to good use for the benefit of individual households, communities, the three regions, and the broader family – the country at large.
Though there was a discontinuation of this publication in the Upper East File, I was still monitoring the way baobab trees produce fruits, what the fruits contain, how the fruits are used, and what the fruits are used for. Other parts of the tree including the leaves and the barks are not left out.
The suspension of this publication came after I had written and published part three (3) of this exploration search in this paper. My reason for the suspension was to enable me gather more facts and economic benefits of the tree.
In my write-ups, I used countries like Burkina Faso, Senegal and The Gambia, where the people are making good use of the tree-bark, fruits, leaves, and roots.
My research on food products from the Baobab revealed that many parts of the baobab are edible.
The fruit is mixed with water and drunk as lemonade, or dissolved into milk and used as a drink, and also enjoyed raw. Beyond the fruit, the seeds can be eaten raw or roasted and made into coffee, and also yield edible oil.
The leaves can be made into spinach, or eaten as relish, and the fruit dissolved in milk or water and used as a drink.
For instance, in Senegal, the baobab pulp is mostly used to make a drink called Bouye, a milky, tart juice made by boiling the pulp and seeds together with water and sugar.
The citric and tartaric acids found in the pulp provide the base for cream of tartar, often used as a baking ingredient. Other uses for tartar include a milk-curdling agent, and yoghurt or ice-cream flavouring. Baobab seeds and leaves are also prepared and eaten.
My motivation to explore the value of the tree took me to the Northern Regional capital, Tamale, to interview the National Coordinator of the Northern Rural Growth Programme, Mr. Roy Ayariga, to seek his professional view on the value of the Baobab tree, as an agronomist.
Mr. Roy Ayariga corroborated my findings, and said the baobab tree wais full of potential, which if properly tapped, would not only facilitate the process and programmes to bridge the gap between the North and the South, but would also add nutritional and medicinal constituents to our meals.
Mr. Ayariga said if one visits Ghana’s neighbouring Burkina Faso, one would find out that the best drink one will be served with, is drink made from the fruits of the baobab.
He said in Burkina Faso, for example, they will serve visitors with Bisab, which is made from the flowers of the hibiscus, and fruits of the Baobab.
The nutrient content of this is very high when you look at the analysis of the baobab. He said the nutrient value of the baobab leaves rank number one among all the other leaves, including cabbage, which will rank about twenty below.
Mr. Ayariga was categorical that the three northern regions had the potential to commercialise the baobab tree, by making baobab drink out of the fruits and flowers of the tree.
The white pulp can be made into various forms of ice cream.
He regrets that the tree, referred to as the African tree, is getting extinct, and called for its propagation before it can be commercialised. Its propagation, according the Coordinator, is very easy, because it could be propagated from the seed.
But the big question is have we made good use of the few we have around us?
Mr. Ayariga acknowledged the nutritional and medicinal value of the tree, which he believes could be a good replacement for most of the adulterated foods full of chemicals, which now bring diseases that are now killing young people in Ghana, due to their habit of consuming those foods.
As this File continues with the search for the value of the baobab, it is gratifying to announce that this year is a good one, as the economic tree in the Northern and Upper East Regions, where this reporter has observed that every baobab tree has fruited plenteously.
Every corner of these regions one goes, one finds that the baobab trees have really fruited very well, and if the fruits are to be harvested, one can describe it as bumper harvest.
The setting up of the New Vision Royal Company Limited at Nakolo in the Kassena-Nankana District of the Upper East Region, which is into the processing shea nut into shea butter, is laudable.
So, when I was writing this script, and called a management member of the company, Mr. Godwin Teye Narhm, to find out whether his outfit could consider processing baobab fruits or nuts, he lauded the idea, but also charged me to find out how it is processed in Burkina Faso into edible products.
Now, I have accepted the challenge to do more research about the tree, on how its raw materials are processed in Burkina Faso into toffee, chocolate, soft drinks, milky creams and tea.
When I went out to take pictures of some of the trees with their fruits at Tinosobligo in the Bolgatanga Municipality, some two men were seen sleeping under one of the trees.
I also caught up with some goats feeding on the pulp left behind, after some children had plucked the fruits, broken them, and taken what they wanted, and left the surplus.
This means that when the fruits are plucked and broken for domestic animals to feed on, the animals will no longer stray and get missing during the dry season, as has always being the case.
I guess it is not only the baobab tree that has these values that are not utilised, but also several more trees or plants.
The Upper East File therefore, suggests that a holistic research be conducted on how the raw materials of this economic tree are processed and utilised in other countries, for same to be done in Ghana.
Please read more next week!