QUALITREE – research based local tree oil production

Project summary

Oil products from native trees in West Africa are essential for human diet, medicine and cosmetics, but their potentials are far from fully exploited. QUALITREE aims to reduce poverty by increasing food security and income in Burkina Faso and Mali through sustainable growth and development of local industrial food production and marketing of oil products from native trees. The industrial production will be developed by two private companies, one Danish and one Burkinabé. The production will be research-based. Use of local traditional knowledge, oil composition and data on availability of oil trees in agricultural fields will form the basis for a sustainable and improved oil production adapted to local socioeconomic aspects. QUALITREE will ensure that local women are engaged and profit from the project. The project focuses on value-addition of well-known oils, such as shea butter, and on development of new or less known marketable oil products from native field trees. QUALITREE has a strong capacity building component; five African PhD students, five master students and several young researchers will receive high quality education. In addition, local communities and industrial workers will receive training as well. QUALITREE will benefit local communities through new possibilities for income generation and through a diversification of the food supply, which is important both for food security and nutrition.

Outputs

Project Completion Report:
Women in rural Africa traditionally extract oil from the seeds of numerous native trees. QualiTree combined investigations of rural people’s knowledge and analyses of physiochemical properties of oils to improve and promote production of native oils from West Africa for local use and export.
Most local people know about common oil trees like shea and oil palm, but knowledge about the a variety of potential oil trees is confined to certain villages or to a few ethnic groups with atradition to produce special oils. Traditional production processes are not optimal and can be improved to be more efficient and hygienic. Oil production from native trees has a considerable economic potential for rural women. Screening of oils from 32 native West African trees revealed good potentials for ameliorated use and production. Many native oil species are highly valuable and have properties that are unexploited, and in some cases unknown. Fx nine Combretum species have shown new and interesting properties for cosmetics and soap, this is to our knowledge new to science. Three Lannea species give very stable oil with a high potential for frying, which makes them good alternatives palm oil. Caprapa procera has good qualities for soap and skin care. Pentadesma butyracea has a composition similar to shea butter, which is a highly valued export commodity. There are many other trees with potentials.
Oil properties of native oils from West Africa are generally not well known, and there are large unexploited opportunities for native oil products for local use and export. Improved production of soap, cream and shampoo based on Carapa Procera has been established with a private company and a series of cosmetic products based on this oil is a sales success in Burkina Faso. New products with Lannea and Combretum species have shown great potentials.
One main concern for native oil production is the availability of plant materials which are disappearing because of overuse, climate change and poor management. Many of the most valuable species grow in habitats that are disappearing. Efficient production is impossible without a continuous and reliable supply of fruits from the local area.
There is an extraordinary potential for improving health and economic development in poor communities via increased and improved oil production. Nature conservation and tree planting, however, is needed to ensure sufficient and continuous supplies.Planning and establishment of local production facilities in West Africa must work on three strategies at the same time:

1) improved and new oil products with the local producers to ensure a good and constant supply,

2) establishment of contact to local and international trading companies with interest in buying and importing locally based oil products and

3) protection and planting of native trees to maintain and improve the oil source. Habitat and biodiversity conservation can be additional advantages of sustainable oil production.

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