Food Security Crisis Averted

How baobab gatherers get through the COVID-19 crisis — Mozambique

Baobab processing  ©Christoph Mohr, 2018.

The effects of Covid-19 weakened the foundations of the international markets

The baobab powder from Mozambique no longer found its way to the guaranteed off-takers in the USA and EU markets. This also affected Baobab Products Mozambique company, a Green Innovation Centre partner. It had not only suddenly lost its overseas customers, the company could also not purchase the produce of this year’s baobab season, May/June.

This created great hardship for the female baobab gatherers from the province of Manica, Mozambique, who had worked together with the company for several years. Indeed, the women were in danger of losing what was often their only source of income for the entire year. Driven by the poverty which was looming over them, the gatherers could have sold the pulp to travelling dealers at rock-bottom prices – but that would hardly have secured their livelihoods.

The solution?

An emergency fund that guarantees an income for the gatherers and enables Baobab Products Mozambique to keep purchasing powder, knowing that the market will absorb their stocks once the transport lines are reopened.

This in mind, the Green Innovation Centre has entered into a partnership with the Micaia Foundation to set up a suitable financial fund. The Micaia Foundation plays an intermediary role in this process, buying the fruit from Baobab Products Mozambique and storing it until the end market can be accessed again.

This arrangement has been paying off for the gatherers for quite some time now – and on 21 May, the first gatherers received the agreed price of 7 meticais (0.0834 Euro) per kilo for their fruits. The 2019 price was 6 meticais (0.07149 Euro) per kilo – and this increase also acts as an incentive to stay in business permanently. More than 900 female gatherers have benefited from the payments to date. The target is to reach 1,700 women, enabling them to survive the crisis.

The gatherers who have been supported by the boost to their finances can also focus more on dealing responsibly with the pandemic. However, it takes a while for information from the poorest and most remote districts of Manica province to reach the Green Innovation Centre. Families are widely scattered and several communities have no access to a telephone network.

This is why the Green Innovation Centre and the Micaia Foundation are not only supporting gatherers financially; they are also hosting infection prevention training courses to educate them about the COVID-19 pandemic. Every baobab gatherer also received face masks, washing buckets and soap.


Hanna Mathias