Oleasylva: meeting on oil seed trees and their uses
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CTA. 1992. Oleasylva: meeting on oil seed trees and their uses. Spore 42. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to cite or share this item: https://hdl.handle.net/10568/45861
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gathering of 30 experts on oil seed trees in the Sahelian regions. The meeting, called Oleasylva, was held in Bamako Mali in July 1992.
The oil-producing trees of the Sahel was the theme which drew 30 specialists to Bamako, Mali, in duly 1992 for a meeting organized by the French Ministry of Cooperation and Development. The aim was to decide which species could be marketed, and what research remained to be done. The shea butter tree, the physic nut tree, balanites, argan, neem, moringa are all Sahelian trees which produce a top-quality oil and flourish on poor, stony soil in areas of minimal rainfall. Africans have long been aware of the properties of these oils, from which the women make butter, cosmetic creams, cooking oils, insecticides and medicines. Across the Sahel the women gather in the nuts, roast or dry them in the sun, then pound and mix them for hours. Part of the oil extracted is for family consumption, and the rest is sold for cash. Multi-use species New uses for these tropical trees are being constantly discovered. Shea butter is used in the treatment of bronchitis and heals sprains and burns; neem kills insect pests; moringa seeds have properties which clarify muddy or cloudy water; balanites oil has amazing cosmetic properties; and oil from the physic nut can be used as engine fuel. The plants, however, are irregular in their growing and fruiting cycles: for example, the shea butter tree fruits only every two to three years, and the argan tree will grow only in the wild. In order to see which of the products of these plants could be marketed and what further research was called for, the French Ministry of Cooperation and Development organized a gathering of 30 experts on oil seed trees in the Sahelian regions. The meeting, called Oleasylva, was held in Bamako Mali in July 1992. At this meeting the delegates explored the concept of marketing, which was new to most of them. The organizer, Arthur Riedacker, sees signs of a new direction 'We have to adopt an entirely new approach at this meeting. Previously, we geared our research to one particular tree and then looked at how we might increase production, but now we must first find out whether it is marketable or not. If the answer is 'yes', then research can get under way.' The gathering was attended by 30 delegates among whom 15 were African from 1 countries. Technicians, manufacturers, dealers, chemists and end-users were present One problem which occupied much of the time was that of processing kernels. '`The reason we are here is to decide on the action we are going to take, and to find the an swers to our questions from the facts at our disposal,' said Professor Dan Dicker, Director of the CRES (a regional centre for solar energy), who was hosting the work shop. Various views were exchanged among delegates: for example, Hieke Osterman, a neem specialist, suggested that leaving some of the neem shell mixed with the kernel in the press increases the pressure and allows more oil to be extracted. Many problems remain unsolved The processing is a mammoth task, requiring eight hours of manual labour to extract one litre of shea butter oil, and ten hours for one litre of argan oil. These domestic production techniques cannot keep up with current requirements and neither can the productivity of the trees themselves. Balanites and neem only bear fruit after rainfall and the unpredictability of the weather makes it extremely hard to have any confidence in the ability to supply a market. Furthermore, if processing is not carried out correctly the oils quickly go rancid and smell disgusting. There are also difficulties at pressing because some seeds contain a substance which blocks the filters, or because the shell does not come away from the kernel. Unhelpful legislation On the international market, especially in Europe, legislation causes difficulties. `'At present shea butter is banned in the manufacture of chocolate in most European countries,' explains Jean-Jacques Pesquet of APROMA (a French association for the promotion of raw materials). 'It can be used only for coating, and cocoa is used in preference because of its quality. Up till now this ban has been violated by many manufacturers because shea butter is much cheaper than cocoa. But that is no longer the case, and it is pointless continuing the fraud. ' Today 97% of shea butter exports are used in the food manufacturing industry. The question now is whether legislation will change in the near future, or whether the brokers will direct these products towards the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries instead. 'We have to act quickly,' urges Arthur Riedacker; 'the chemical industry can substitute synthetic products for these natural ones, and it is far harder to halt the use of a substance once in production than to get it adopted.' But neither the market nor the desert can wait for long. The organizer of the workshop, which was held as part of the 'Observatoire du Sahara et du Sahel' projects, reminded those present; 'the only way to stop desertification is to protect the vegetation.' For information contact: Arthur Riedacker Ministry of Cooperation and Development 20 rue Monsieur, 75007 Paris, FRANCE
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