Stay of execution for baobabs
Makhado – Interested and affected parties on the Musina-Makhado Special Economic Zone (MMSEZ) have been granted additional time till Sunday 31 January 2021 to submit comments on the draft Environmental Impact Assessment report. The original deadline for submissions was Thursday 22 October and over 3,000 submissions were received.
The botanical survey estimates that 5,657 baobab trees will be directly affected by the MMSEZ. Not only are these iconic trees of the Limpopo province landscape, but they have untapped socio-economic value in the organic health food industry.
Baobab specialist doctor Sarah Venter says that baobabs take 200 years before they produce fruit! Baobab trees produce a fruit that can be processed into a ‘superfood’ known for its unsurpassed nutritional makeup and becoming increasingly popular on the organic food market. In 2005, she started a company in Makhado to produce baobab products which sources directly from rural women and is an incentive to maintain natural habitats.
A secondary product is a high value cosmetic oil, known as baobab seed oil. Sarah estimates that the combined value of the baobab powder and oil that can be generated from the baobab trees on the MMSEZ site alone totals R2,800,000 per annum.
The Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism (LEDET) is the competent authority charged with deciding whether this controversial development should go ahead and whether alternatives have been adequately considered by the consultants.
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