Charles Mangwiro | February 7, 2022
Ezequiel Joao Brandao lives in Chimoio city in Mozambique. He sells baobab fruits at Mercado 38mm market which is an open market where people sell diverse food and second-hand items. Baobab fruits are in high demand in Mozambique because its pulp is used as a thickener in the preparation of many different beverages, juices, jams, and homemade ice-creams. The fruit is also used as a curdling agent in cheese and yoghurt. Mr. Brandao currently buys baobab fruits from collectors, most of whom are women and young boys in Guro district in Manica province and in Tambara district in Tete western province.
Ezequiel Joao Brandao is optimistic about his baobab business. The 40-year-old sits down on a small bench in a busy, overcrowded market. He is getting ready to sell baobab fruits to his customers.
Mr. Brandao says, “I didn’t want to continue selling fresh vegetables because I was too frustrated with the low prices. Eight years ago, I travelled to Guro district where I saw baobab fruits. I bought eight bags in order to try selling them for a change.”
He adds, “The market response was amazing and I sold all the bags of baobab fruits in just one day. Slowly I started to bring more and more bags to market and after five months, I dumped the vegetable business to specialize in selling baobab fruits.”
Mr. Brandao lives in Chimoio city in Mozambique. He sells baobab fruits at Mercado 38mm market which is an open market where people sell diverse food and second-hand items.
He explains, “For the past 16 years, I have tried selling almost all types of cash crops like beans, maize, and fruits. But I find baobab fruits to be the most profitable.”
Baobab fruits are in high demand in Mozambique because its pulp is used as a thickener in the preparation of many different beverages, juices, jams, and homemade ice-creams. The fruit is also used as a curdling agent in cheese and yoghurt.
Mr. Brandao explains further, “The pulp is also applied as a seasoning in traditional dishes. I really don’t have problems with customers because people in this region love to eat these foods.”
Mr. Brandao currently buys baobab fruits from collectors, most of whom are women and young boys in Guro district in Manica province and in Tambara district in Tete western province.
The market for baobab fruits has increased dramatically for Mr. Brandao. He explains, “Now I have buyers from almost every corner of this country but I spend most of my time here at Mercado 38mm market just to have a close contact with my clients.”
He adds, “My clients buy baobab fruits to produce ice-creams, jams, yoghurts, mousse, and popsicles, as well for use in traditional medicines to control high blood pressure.”
Anifa Daudo Osman is a manager at a local non-governmental organization called the Micaia Foundation which in 2008 created a company called Baobab Mozambique (BPM) to buy baobab fruits and to provide training to those that harvest them.
According to Andrew Kingman, director of BPM, the business was created in 2015 by Eco-Micaia Ltd, one of the organizations under the umbrella of the Micaia Foundation. He explains that the company was set up when, during a project by the Micaia Foundation, staff recognised that the women in the baobab harvesting sector were being exploited by traders.
Ms. Osman elaborates, “We created BPM because we saw a business opportunity that will also help communities in the baobab-harvesting areas where we help the women and young people to develop ideas on how they can invest the money they earn from selling baobab fruits.”
Baobab fruits are helping many women to earn income in different ways, such as in collecting, selling, and value addition at various factories. Melita Raul is one of the women working at one such company that processes baobab fruits.
She says, “I no longer have plans to go to the big city to look for a job because baobab processing has become part of my life. This is a seasonal activity, however, so when there is no baobab fruit, I go back to my home and work in the field to produce food.”
Mr. Brandao, too, has put aside his former ambitions in favour of baobab because he says the baobab business is more lucrative.
He explains; “I tried to work as a truck driver but I was not happy with the poor salary, breakdowns, and long driving hours. Now I am happy because I earn up to 638,300 Mozambican meticals (US$1,000) per month. I am not even thinking of working for someone else as long as I can sell baobab fruit and pulp.”
This resource was supported with the aid of a grant from The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ) implementing the Green Innovation Centre project.
Photo: A women sells baobab fruit in a market. Credit: Charles Mangwiro.