Improving food potential in West African parkland trees
Leaves and fruits of Baobab (Adansonia digitata) and the African Locust Bean (Parkia biglobosa) are, utilized daily in West African households and rich in vitamins, proteins and nutrients. Both species have potential for increased and more efficient utilization and are very important food sources. The project aims to the food security of rural people by increasing the production capacity of baobab and the Parkia tree by identifying trees and seed sources with high nutrient level and adaptability to a dryer climate. Methods for breeding of trees for nutrient contents will be developed in a cross disciplinary cooperation between research in food technology, agroforestry and gene ecology. Superior trees with high nutrition level will be selected for vegetative propagation and made available for public use. Studies will relate seed quality and origin of P. biglobosa to results of the fermentation process. Studies on A. digitata will survey the possibilities for better utilization of baobab fruits through fermentation. A constraint for increased use of trees is the long production time, and vegetative propagation of Parkia will be developed. New fast producing hedge systems are available for baobab, and specific seed sources with high nutrient content will be developed. To ensure the adaptive properties of the species to climatic change, their ecophysiology and gene ecology will be studied in nurseries trials on young plant material, collected from selected localities in West Africa. Ultimately, guidelines for a sustainable utilization and gene conservation of A. digitata and P. biglobosa will be given.