Commercialise indigenous plants, says expert


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The export market for indigenous plants used in food, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals is largely underserviced and Zimbabwe should look to commercializing a number of its plants, an industry official said this week.

Bio-Innovation Zimbabwe project coordinator Caroline Jacquet said that global demand for the indigenous plants was on the rise.

One of the plants hugely in demand is the Baobab fruit which according to a study by Britain’s Natural Resources Institute, has the potential to earn an extra $1 billion a year for Africa, and bring work and income to 2.5 million households.

“Baobab is considered a super fruit. It is extremely rich in antioxidants, magnesium, Vitamin C, potassium and dietary fiber. So instead of taking pill supplements people are opting for baobab powder,” she said.

“The biggest demand comes from the ‘health freaks’ and that market is growing as people become more conscious of their health.”

Currently Zimbabwe exports about 50 tonnes of baobab powder to Europe and the United States.

Jacquet said there was a demand for indigenous teas of higher nutritional value such as Fever Tea (Zumbani) and Resurrection bush (Mufandichimuka) which have been proved to have much lower tannin content than rooibos.

“Most of these plants have high nutritional value but they are underutilized. There is little knowledge of their commercial value. So there is need commercialize and up production so that we can sustain the demand,” she said.- The Source

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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