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Social and Environmental Impact

Social Impact

Baobab trees are found in many very dry parts of Africa. It is no coincidence that the people living in these areas are amongst the poorest on the continent.

Income from the sale of Baobab fruit is an important source of revenue to many rural Baobab harvesters in Africa

Baobab trees are well adapted to the semi-desert conditions that exist in much of Africa. In these areas, agricultural opportunities are severely constrained by the lack of rainfall and the people living there struggle to find ways to make a living.
The income earned from selling Baobab fruit is incredibly important to people living in these semi-desert areas. The Baobab trees provide fruit regularly, even during times of drought.
Much of this income accrues to women, who are traditionally responsible for harvesting and processing wild fruit. Studies in Zimbabwe and Malawi have shown that the single biggest use for income earned from selling Baobab fruit is to cover the costs of children’s education.

One study, from the Natural Resources Institute at Chatham, in the UK, estimated that as many as two and half million families in Africa could potentially benefit from earning income from Baobab fruit sales. So, the more Baobab you eat, the more rural African harvester’s benefit! 

Environmental Impact

Baobab trees are not threatened or endangered and the Baobab population in Sub-Saharan Africa is generally stable and healthy. Baobab trees are extremely adaptable and resilient in the face of changing climatic conditions.

Their incredible ability to store water allows them to survive through even the harshest of droughts in areas where they naturally occur.  

The biggest threat to Baobab trees comes from the conversion of Baobab woodland to arable agriculture. This occurs when rural communities see no meaningful cash income from their Baobab trees and would rather remove them to create alternative income opportunities from arable production. This rarely happens in places where they earn regular income from the sale of Baobab fruit.
Some ABA members are certified under the Fair Wild certification scheme. This is an independent mechanism that assesses both the ecological sustainability of Baobab harvesting practices and the social welfare of the Baobab harvesters. This system requires certificate-holders to implement environmental management plans that monitor sustainability on an annual basis.
Other ABA members are actively involved in the planting of new Baobab trees, in particular as part of the Great Green Wall Initiative that seeks to restore degraded landscapes across the Sahelian region of Africa through the creation of an 8,000 km long belt of forest.