Michael Jacobson, Associate Professor of Forest Resources, discusses businesses based on indigenous knowledge. Encouraged by the growing interest from tourists, a traditional healer partnered with a hotel owner in Durban to start the Fordoun Spa that uses indigenous products for spa treatments. Mike talks about the many opportunities presented by the iconic baobab tree. Women entrepreneurs are collecting baobab seeds to extract oil for export to Europe where it is used in making perfumes. The pulp of the baobab fruit also has potential as fruit juice, wine, and other high-end consumer products.
Traditional Medicine (also known as indigenous medicine): comprises medical knowledge systems that developed over generations within various societies before the era of modern medicine.
Baobab tree: regarded as the largest succulent plant in the world, the baobab tree is steeped in a wealth of mystique, legend and superstition wherever it grows in Africa. It is a tree that can provide, food, water, shelter and relief from sickness.
Niche markets: the subset of the market on which a specific product is focusing; therefore the market niche defines the specific product features aimed at satisfying specific market needs, as well as the price range, production quality, and the demographics that it is intended to impact.
- What kind of forests exists where you live? Are the local plants/trees and other forests used for anything such as fire wood, food, etc.?
- Imagine you decide to sell coconut milk from coconut trees in your backyard. Describe all the different business logistics you would have to consider in order to run your business.
Discussion Topics related to this video
- What types of activities in local communities involve the Baobab tree? What is the cultural significance of the baobab tree and the various activities?
- What other market opportunities does the Baobab tree have?
Related Indigenous Knowledge topics for further exploration
- The Baobab tree is an example of a tree from which every single part may be used in order to reduce waste (e.g. the fruit, branches, leaves and all other parts are used for different things such as food, firewood, and medicine). Can you think of other such trees? Describe why it is important to not be wasteful with resources in a business.
- The Baobab tree was used as a central location for many activities in the local community. Can you think of a place that is most commonly used in your community as a central location for activities? How is this location a part of your local culture?
find detailed information about the Baobab tree and its different properties
- Traditional Medicine [Wikipedia]
- Adansonia Digitata [by Andrew Hakey on PlantZAfrica.com]
- Niche markets [Wikipedia]