Baobab fruit, emblem of Senegal, a popular “superfood”

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It is a strange looking fruit. A ripe brown pod, a soft skin, which reveals inside a dry and fibrous white pulp and its black seeds. Monkey bread – called bouye in Senegal – is the fruit of the baobab tree. A “super-food”, with a tangy taste, which combines the virtues: twice as rich in calcium as a portion of milk, five times richer in vitamin C than an orange, with a high potassium and magnesium content , excellent antioxidant, and rich in fiber. It is therefore not surprising that bouye is traditionally cooked in many ways in Senegal, a country whose symbol is the baobab.

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In powder, juice, syrup, cakes or jam, Awa Samb transforms monkey bread in the region of Fatick, south-east of Dakar, the capital. “It is also with its powder that we cook the ngalakhtraditional preparation to celebrate the end of Lent »explains the director of the Economic Interest Group of young entrepreneurs in Sokone.

While export sales have fallen since the crisis linked to the coronavirus pandemic, the vast majority of the processor’s products are sold on local markets, which have the capacity to absorb a large part of the Senegalese production generated by the many small-scale processing micro-enterprises that make a living from it.

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The small bouye cakes sold to children after school are, for example, the flagship product of Yacine Ndow, who heads the small processing company Yas Agro. “We harvest monkey bread in Casamance, then we cook the flesh in Dakar, transformed into powder to make biscuits”, explains the young entrepreneur.

Maxence Salou, founder of the small Burkinabe company Laafi Zaaka, innovated by transforming the seeds of monkey bread into a black powder that he sells as “baobab coffee without caffeine”. “I used the flesh to make calcium-rich food supplements but I threw the seeds away, it was a waste. So I sought to valorize this waste which strengthens the immune system and helps regulate blood pressure”, explains the Burkinabe who has come to sell his products in Senegal.

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In recent years, this ancestral fruit has started to emerge from family kitchens to occupy the shelves of organic shops, such as the online store Soreetul, which specializes in the distribution of natural products processed in Senegal. It is precisely on this platform that Mariama Dème, founder of Batouly, a “100% local” juice processing company in Thiès, sells her innovative products based on Senegalese products. And it was the bouye that took the lead in sales.

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