Andrew Mbaimbai has worked as a chef in a tourist lodge for the past twenty years and his speciality is baking everything from bread to biscuits. But since 2004, he has spent his spare time harvesting baobab fruit . This year he made an additiona income providing much needed cash that helps him to send his grandchildren to school, buy school uniforms and purchase additional food.
“With the money I’ve made from baobab, I built a house for my retirement.” “I head up organic baobab production in our community” explains Andrew. “In order to produce organic baobab we have returned hundreds of hectares of land that we used to use for agriculture back to forest”. In this one-of- kind scheme that is unique in Africa, baobab producers are able to gain a higher price for organic baobab and are also incentivised to protect these new forest areas. “This year, with the money from that woodland, we have fixed our boreholes so everyone in our community can have clean, safe drinking water again” says Andrew. Bolstered by the success of organic baobab, Andrew and his friends are starting Fair Trade baobab production this year. “We are setting up a community committee so we can decide what projects we are going to spend the additional money we will receive from Fair Trade Baobab” continues Andrew. “Our ambition is to build our own processing factory in the village so we don’t have to hire a warehouse anymore” he says. “Baobab gives us hope, hope for the prosperous future of our community, and hope for our forests.” He holds out a tin plate “Please try one of my baobab scones – they are most delicious”.