Where it can be found
: Marula is widely distributed at low and medium altitudes in open woodlands across Zimbabwe. It is especially associated with hot, dryland areas and is an excellent source of supplementary nutrition and income for rural people living in areas of limited agricultural potential.
Two studies show the sustainability of harvesting marula in Zimbabwe.
The National University of Science and Technology carried out a survey in Bulilima and Mangwe districts and calculated that trees yield about 76,000 tonnes of fruit per year.
End of 2014, BIZ carried out a marula resource assessment in Binga, Hwange and Beitbridge districts. There are about 530,000, 510,000 and 1,760,000 marula trees in the 3 districts surveyed (excluding national parks), giving a potential yield of 150,000 tonnes of fruits per year.
Using the kernel to fruit yields from Chivi, this means Bulilima and Mangwe could produce about 1,400 tonnes and Binga, Hwange and Beitbridge over 2,500 tonnes of kernels per year.
To put these figures in perspective: BIZ is currently supplying about 10 tonnes of kernels to local oil producers and the local food market at present needs less than a tonne for a good year’s supply.
What is harvested – Harvesting time: The whole fruit (pulp and nuts) are harvested between January and March. Nut cracking can be done throughout the year, after the nuts have dried for a few months, typically during the time when people are less busy in their fields.
Average yield per collector: Fruit yields range from 270-570 kg of fruit/tree/year. Collecting the fruit is an ongoing activity, requiring maybe 30 min/day. A practised producer can manually extract 1 kg of nut kernels per day. A highly motivated group of about 100 women in Mwenezi is able to produce 2 tonnes of kernels per month! Processing and selling of marula kernels is done solely by women, and the money received is also controlled exclusively by them.