According to Jensen's survey, the most important fruit trees in Owambo are for example: Sclerocarya birrea subsp. Cafra, Berchemia discolor, Diospyros mespiliformis and Hyphaena petersiana. Other important fruit trees known in Namibia are Schinsiophyton (formerly Ricinodentron) rautanenii, Strychnos cocculoides, Strychnos spinosa, Adansonia digitata, Acanthosicyos horridus among others. Each species is briefly examined in respect to distribution, general biology, the traditional uses and their products, their nutritional values, socio-economic importance commercial potential, domestication potential and what has been, and could be done in the marketing of these fruits and their derived products.
Formerly known as Ricinedendron rautanennii. This tree seems to be available all over the Kalahari sands of North Eastern Namibia. Although still found in concentrated areas, it depends on certain biophysical factors such as soil types, temperature and altitude.
Description: The Manketti tree is a large tree, 7 - 20 metres in height, the diameter up to 60 cm. It gets its leaves in mid to end October, flowers and begin to bear fruits end October towards beginning of November. The fruit ripens from February to April. The production varies from season to season. Other factors such as temperatures and rainfall influence tree behaviour (Lombard CRIAA 1998).
Uses: The Manketti fruits are used in the following ways:
· Outer flesh/pulp of the plum shaped fruit is a relish, eaten raw or cooked.
· The peel and flesh for production of hot liquor known as Ombike or Kashipembe
· The nut finely crushed and added to meat/vegetables to make a tasty soup or gravy.
· The kernel or nuts of the seeds are the most valuable parts of the fruit. The nuts yield a high quality yellow oil of which about 60% is used for food and cosmetics. The protein content of the nut is nearly 30%
· The shell of the nuts are used as fuel
· The leaves are used as fodder
Food security: The Manketti fruit is an important source of food to many rural communities. This is particularly true in the case of Bushmen communities who do not practice agricultural activities. In his studies, Lee (1973) indicated that many people still depend more on Manketti nuts than cultivated food. For those who cultivate crops, manketti supplements their food requirements during the poor harvesting year. Manketti fruits are also exchanged with other products such as millet (Mahangu).
More economic values of manketti fruits: In addition to bartering for Mahangu, Manketti plays other economic roles. In some areas, such as Okavango, Manketti is exchanged 1:1 with Mahangu. One drum of Manketti fruit costs one drum of Mahangu (San/Valuja) (1998). One may buy a can indirectly with manketti fruits. 200 l drum of Mahangu cost N$ 700.00 which may easily feed 10 people for 5 months. One may collect these three drums of manketti fruits and will be able to feed the family of 10 over a year.
The production of a hot liqueur locally known as Kashipembe and its economic values: This is hot drink made from the fermented fruits. Manketti is the most famous for this in Kavango Region. How to destrier is demonstrated by Lombard's work paper titled San/Vakwangali (1998).
Kashipembe/Ombike is produced by many people in Namibia, in northern regions of former Owambo and Kavango regions. In Kavango region Kashipembe costs between N$ 5 - 13.00 per litter. While in Windhoek the costs between N$30.00 and 40.00 per litre. Most of the fruits mentioned below are used to make Kashipembe (known as ombike in Oshiwambo).
Oil extraction: Nuts can be removed from seeds after the removal of the flesh. Traditionally, an axe is used to remove nuts. Recently, a manually operated decorticator (removing the inner part or nut from the hard outer shell) for both Marula and Manketti nuts has been developed, making the process quicker, easier and safer. The actual preparation/extraction of oil from nuts is discussed below. The oil extraction is a potential for job creation in local communities. When people were asked to collect the manketti fruits which are deep in the forests, they are prepared to walk as far as 25 km.
Description: This is a large tree which grows in the veld. A deciduous, single-stemmed tree up to 10 metres in height with a wide spread rounded crown. Leaves are compound, pale green, aggregated at the end of branches. Fruits ovoid, smooth, pale yellow when ripe. The tree has been described in detail by Palgrave (1978), and Fox and Young (1982).
Distribution: The tree species occurs in many countries of Southern Africa. It is mainly found in frost free and relatively warm areas with sandy to loamy soils (Fox and Young, 1982). In Namibia it is found in northern parts of the country. Although it also grows in the veld, it is usually found in the field or near settlement areas. It is commonly found in the Oshana, Omusati, Ohangwena, Oshikoto, Okavango, Caprivi and part of Otjozondjupa regions.
Wine: The tree produces an outstanding and famous wine (marula wine). The wine comes about when the juice is squeezed out of the marula fruits. Fermented for a few days (depending on individual trees' taste). Thereafter the wine is properly cleaned by sieving the liquid. It has been reported that this drink has a high content of vitamin C. The alcohol content is quite high. It is estimated to be up to 15% per volume, depending on the individual tree and the period the liquid has been fermented for. It is believed that Marula wine increases people's appetite. This is very famous in northern Namibia (Owambo). So far, extraction of marula wine has been only a woman's job. CRIAA SA-DC Marula Oil Production Project (1998) developed a press to process Marula oil which easily extracts the juice from fresh Marula fruits, being at least twice as quick and with nearly twice the yield as the traditional method.
A second drinking product from marula fruit is a very sweet and almost non alcohol drink. One may compare it with appletizer or other fruit juices from the domestic fruit trees. It is prepared as follows. Immediately when the cover of fruits are removed from the seeds, the seeds are put in a container (normally clay pot), water is added ( 20 litre for 10 litre container full of seeds) and left for about 12 hours. This becomes a very sweet and non-alcoholic drink. This is usually a drink for children.
Nuts and Oil: Marula seed comprises a hard cover and kernel. It is quite hard to remove nuts from the seed. It is a woman's tasks to remove nuts. They use an axe to open a seed on one side. They use a tool made of iron to remove the nuts. The embryo is really delicious and so highly priced that it is given to special guests. In some parts of South Africa they have been given called `food for kings' (Junod, in Fox and Young, 1982). These nuts (omaxuku) are mixed with Mahangu cake to make a very delicious food. Until very recently, elders have recommended that children should eat such nuts as they say that if a young person makes a habit of eating such nuts he/she will have an uncontrolled appetite for food. So, such a youth may end up stealing other people's food because he/she will feel that the food he/she gets at home will not be enough for him/her.
The embryos are so rich in oil that this can be expressed by squeezing. The nuts are prepared in large quantities of 0.5 kg and more. They are put in the mortar then stamped with pestles. Tactfully, a woman squeezes several times until a considerable amount of oil is separated from the residue known as edi. The oil is very highly priced. They are given to special guests with special dishes. In all important feasts, such as a wedding ceremony, marula oil is one of the special foods and the organisers have to see to it that they are available (refer to 4-O regions). Local markets are available for this purpose.
Jam can also be produced from Marula fruits (Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Rural Development, Project on Indigenous Fruits, (1999)).
Economic role: All these products, wine and unprocessed kernels and oil, are now available in open (informal) markets in the country. Marula wine is now sold between N$5 to N$10.00 per litre (confirmed at Oshakati Omatala open market, March, 1999). In African restaurants in Windhoek, Marula wine is one of the products preferred by many people. The price of Marula wine at this restaurant is N$15.00 per litre. The same fruits have been developed in South Africa and mixed with cream to make up a famous liqueur known as Amarula. With regard to kernels, there are nine women's groups in northern Namibia involved in oil production. The total number of women involved in these cooperatives are about 1000 women. It has been noticed that, to a great extent, these women do manage themselves showing that there is good scope for a large and effective economic operation in the near future.
In 1997, about 3500 kg of kernels were collected and sold at N$ 12.00 per kg. The oils are used for cosmetic production in Europe. For this reason, a Trial Marula Oil Production Project came up with a Marula oil processing tool known as prototype 2 press. The press is robust and made principally from scrap metal and has an excellent chance of performing well in rural setting (CRIAA SA-DC 1998). Such work is taking place at Katutura in Windhoek. Oil is sold at +-N$ 100.00 per litre. This is exported to Europe for pharmaceutical purposes. The trial marula oil project shows that interest in Marula oil from commercial parties is as strong as ever, and negotiations with premier potential buyers show that the project is on the verge of an important commercial breakthrough. The project also brought to light that Marula oil and kernel contains at least one powerful antioxidant and this is regarded as a major marketing benefit. It is expected that this year more than 20 tonnes will be collected.
It is clear that there is tremendous economic potential from the use of the marula fruits. It is necessary to formalise the extraction of marula wine and expand the mechanical extraction of oil from marula kernels. This will add more value to the tree and will enable many people to protect and increase a number of the tree species.
Description: Baobab is one of the famous and well known trees in many parts of the dry zone of Africa. The tree has a very thick stem with a sparse wide spreading round crown. It reaches up to 15 m in height. For a detailed description, see Fox and Young (1982).
Distribution: It is found in the east and southern part of Africa. In Namibia, the tree is found in the north-west, mainly in Omusati region, but also in isolated cases in other northern regions. It also occurs in east Bushman land Leger (1998).
Uses: The pulp around the seed is eaten when dry. The pulp is left in water to soften and mixed with milk and mealie meal to make a very delicious porridge. Wehmyer (1976) reported that the fruit is rich in vitamin C. Although not very commonly used in Namibia, the bark of baobab are used for fastening thatched grass on the roofs. Palgrave notes that white powder from this fruit can be made into a refreshing drink. He further states that fresh leaves are cooked as vegetables in Zimbabwe. However, in Namibia's case, there is no mention of leaves being eaten in any form. Furthermore, trees are described in full details by Palgrave, Le Rouxe , Leger and Fox and Young 1982). In Malawi, local communities produce a soft drink from the fruits and lessons can be learnt from this (GTZ funded Community forestry project, 1997-ongoing).
Economic role: They are sold at informal markets where they cost from N$ 0.50 to 1.00 per fruit. Unless more efforts are made to promote the fruit, it is unlikely that the fruit will play a significant economical role in the near future.
Its sourish fruit is used for making a hot liqueur (Ombike). Due to its taste,. it is not consumed raw. Like other fruits, this fruit may play an economic role if the hot liqueur is legalised. Apparently, due to excessive and unmeasured amount of alcohol in Ombike, the government does not encourage its production. However, this is the main source of income among many poor families. An acceptable way of distilling? has to be found so that poor people can continue to get income from this hot but liked alcoholic drink.
It is also known as African ebony or Omwandi. It is a large tree up to 25 m in height with large stems up to 45 cm in diameter. It grows wild in northern Namibia and stretches from Kunene to Caprivi region. It is found on clay to loamy soils. Fruits are round berries, crowned with the persistent style, yellowish when ripe. The fruit pulp is soft and very sweet. People do collect the fruits during winter. Normally consumed while fresh especially the sweetest ones. The remaining fruits are dried and consumed at a later time. They are either eaten raw with no special preparation or are pounded, powder mixed with boiled water and millet meal to make up a very sweet and delicious porridge (oshihenyandi) which is liked by many people, especially during the dry period. Furthermore, fruits are fermented for the famous hot liqueur - ombike. This is sold at the price of N$30.00 per litre.
Description: Trees are quite tall - 10 - 20 metres. This tree species is found in many parts of Namibia. It covers the northern commercial area of Grootfontein, Tsumeb and Outjo. Its main base is the north-central region -formerly known as Owamboland. They grow along seasonal water bodies locally known as `Oshanas'. These trees are not fond of Kalahari sand. They like clay and salty soil on the cuvelai flow.
Leaves: Shredded into thin strips and used for weaving baskets. Baskets are exported mainly to RSA. They also play a role in the tourism industry. It is one of the products that European tourists are looking for in Namibia.
Fruits: The pulp around the seed is edible. It is quite difficult to pick these fruits from trees. Fruits are eaten in raw form or made into a hot liqueur, as explained below.
Wine and brandy: Palm wine is made by cutting the terminal bud of the fan palm. Unfortunately, the process ends in the death of the plant. It is, therefore, formally forbidden in the country. Many people are still violating this regulation. Although the tree grows slowly, it can be planted and purposely grown. Palm fruit is one of many fruits that can be fermented for a few days so as to make a valuable brandy locally known as Ombike. The price of a litre of ombike is about N$25. - 30. 00. The seeds may also be carved into small carvings. In the absence of fuelwood, palm seed is used as fuel for cooking in many parts of Northern Namibia.
The plant occurs in Kalahari sand area of Namibia. The fruit is the size of an orange but the outer cover is relatively hard. Many people eat the fruits especially bushman communities. The fruits are also sold on the road side at about N$ 0.50 to 1.00 per fruit. Economic role will remain locally based.
Fruits are edible fresh and used to make hot liqueur.
Fruits are consumed fresh and also used to make a juice. Nuts can be used to produce oil for body ointments.