Namibia: Mighty Marula Serves Local Communities

OF the many tree species found in north-central Namibia and elsewhere in southern Africa, the marula tree stands tall and proud as a most respected and celebrated tree which bares a fruit with many beneficial uses.

Scientifically called Sclerocarya birrea, the marula is a tree of many uses and is of great traditional, social, economic and nutritional significance.

This is highlighted by the fact that the seven northern traditional authorities rotate the hosting of the annual marula wine festival.

Last year the Uukwaluudhi Traditional Authority hosted the festival.

The occurrence of the marula tree, a protected species in Namibia, is strongly correlated with human settlements.

The marula fruit is now in season and women in several villages are (as a tradition), extracting juice from it to make wine and other products.

“Marula wine is very nutritious and makes the body healthy. It can also cure malaria,” said Elizabeth Shigwedha (46) from Oniimwandi village at Oshakati West constituency of Oshana region.

Her assertion is a belief held by many tribes. The fruit has long been used as a traditional medicine because it contains antihestamines.

According to the February 2020 booklet of the Namibia Network of the Cosmetic Industry (NANCi), the marula season remains a time of festivity while marula nuts support a wide range of industries and services.

The oil is valuable in cooking as well as skin and hair care. The leaves and the skin of the processed fruit can be fed to livestock.