Baobab helps Increase Income

Dr. Heinrich Heinrichs, Meinolf Kuper (from left) with Baobab fruit

Dr. Heinrich Heinrichs, Meinolf Kuper (from left) with Baobab fruit

Meinolf Kuper is an economist and one of the two managing directors at africrops! In this interview he talks about his history with Baobab. His company imports fruit powder to Germany. The businessman has worked in development cooperation for many years. He spent time working in Burkina Faso, the Congo, Cameroon and Tanzania where he focused on the health sector.

Baobab fruit as decoration

Kuper had his first contact with Baobab in the early 90s when he decided to import handicrafts from Africa. One of his products was whole fruit which he sold as decoration items in Germany. At that time Baobab powder was not approved as food for the import into the European Union. Things changed in 2009 and the powder has found its way into shops all over Europe.

The Idea: Trade with Agricultural Products

Although he switched his import business from handicrafts to recycling products his interest for Baobab remained the same. After nine years of development work in Tanzania he returned to Germany in 2012 – with a great idea in his luggage: he wanted to build lasting business relationships with agricultural products in Africa.

Helping people to help themselves – is that enough?

Together with his business partner, Dr. Heinrich Heinrichs, he founded the company africrops! The positive aspects of their engagement in the development sector strengthened the team in their approach. To them it is not enough to follow the concept of “help for self-help”. They try to go a step further in terms of sustainability and rather invest in sustainable trade relations based on the principle “trade – not aid”. “The cost-effectiveness aspect is very important to us. Trading … must be worthwhile … otherwise it cannot be sustainable.” In order to reach that goal the business relationships of africrops! are meant to be long-term.

Baobab, Tarangire N.P., Tanzania

Baobab, Tarangire N.P., Tanzania

Baobab – even on vacation

The first product they sold in Germany was Moringa (Moringa oleifera), a plant with health-promoting properties. The Baobab powder was added in 2014. Even when on holiday “Baobab” accompanies Kuper. From one of his last trips to Tanzania, he reported that the trees, which he has seen and photographed in the Tarangire National Park while on safari did not look good. They had strong traces of damage to the cortex, did not have leaves as other baobabs and bore no fruit. Elephants might have ripped off bark and did severe damage to the trees. They did not survive.

Baobab, Tarangire N.P., Tanzania

Baobab, Tarangire N.P., Tanzania

Heaps of Baobab powder and “pipi”

In markets in Dodoma, Tanzania’s capital, Kuper has found “heaps” of baobab powder. He has heard that people prepare fruit juice from the pulp. Baobab seeds, which are still coated by fruit pulp and dyed in vivid colors are offered on markets as “Pipi”. The slightly sour taste reminiscent of sherbet makes it particularly popular with children.

Hunger for Land

He reports another sad story about Baobabs from Tanzania. The never ending hunger for agricultural land expands more and more. The trees compete with agricultural land used for cotton production – they are cut down to give way for new cotton fields.

Trade with Baobab = Incentive for their Protection

In his view, the increasing awareness of healthy powder on the European and international market comes at the right time. With the commercial benefits Kuper sees an incentive for local people to protect the giants. He is convinced that people will appreciate the trees and protect them as soon as they realize that they can earn income by selling Baobab powder and oil.

10 Replies to “Baobab helps Increase Income”

  1. I am very happy to finally find someone as passionate as i am about baobab

    please add me on facebook to see my page
    i am trying to raise funds to start a wild harvest so that we can all save the baobab trees from being cut down and instead use the pulp to sell and bring wealth and good income to the poorer communities

    I have been researching baobab for a while now and my first tast was in 2010 when i went to Africa. what a wonderful fruit it got me back to health as i had given birth recently .

    I am so happy to find so much passion similar to mine on here !
    My future company will be all about BAOBAB a product that helps me to always help sustain Baobabs all over the world

    Do keep in touch

  2. I am really glad finding out that there are people outside there with a similar vision as mine.
    I am a Ugandan who visited Tanzania last November,I was particularly in Arusha town and visited the main markets there like Kilombero ,Sokoku and Samunge.I loved the fruit(baobab), locally known as “ubuyu”.
    I then developed an idea of venturing in the business, back in my country.i really need a lot of baobab fruit.
    please, help me come up with a greater idea in that business.its a unique fruit.
    Edmond (Uganda)

    • Dear Edmond, thank you for your inquiry – I have sent you my answer in more detail via email. Best regards, Heike

    • Growing up and living in the UK, the fruit was never heard of until recently when i saw the likes of Aduna and others marketing the African Superfood. Then i came across this amazing article, and i suddenly started to recall my trips to Tanzanian parks, and historical sites in Dodoma when i saw these large baobab trees; not knowing that it produces a highly nutritious fruit with massive demand all over the world. It is an amazing business opportunity whether it is at the source or even at the import level and i would appreciate any advice, assistance you can provide.

      • Dear Zaheer Fazal, thank you very much for your positive feedback regarding this article – I appreciate it. Unfortunately I do not know how I could be of assistance to you since your request is very general. What would you like to do? Best regards, Heike Pander

        • Dear Heike Pander.
          Thank you for your response. Infact since my previous message i have managed to source the fruit from Tanzania through farmers and cooperatives. The assistance i require is finding a suitable market in the EU and/or US, whether it is for bulk supply of the powder/oil etc or even packaged ready to sell. Furthermore whether non organic powder is acceptable as the procedures to certify a wild harvest is a massive task.
          Thank you once again for your time and assistance.

          • Dear Zaheer Fazal,
            I am afraid that I will not be able to help you much further other than recommending that you contact the company that is mentioned in this article above (africrops). I am writing about baobab but I do not sell powder. With respect to the organic certification I have heard that it is important on the European market but this you would have to find out with the people who are actually selling powder on the market in Europe. Best regards, Heike Pander

  3. Dear sir
    am nabeel from Sudan . i have a lot of raw baobab and baobab powder high quality if you interest to buy from me you can contact me on my email or my mobile : +249128127420 .
    nabeel dawod foad

    • Dear Nabeel, thank you for your inquiry about baobab fruit & powder. This is a website publishing information on baobab. We neither buy nor sell baobab powder. Best regards, Heike Pander

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