Where it can be found: The tree is widely distributed in Southern Africa. It prefers hot temperatures and little rain. In its ‘core’ area (northern Namibia, northern Botswana, south western Zambia and western Zimbabwe), it can be found in large stands, several hundred meters wide and stretching for several kilometres, across the well-drained Kalahari sands. Other belts are found in eastern Malawi, and in eastern Mozambique.
What is harvested – Harvesting time: Fruit picking starts at the end of the rainy season (April-May) but is often delayed due to the danger of confronting competing animals (elephants and others), and the high grass that makes access difficult. Therefore, harvest normally begins in June (after the passing of bush fires) until the end of the dry season. A single tree yields as many as 900 fruits per year. In some years the fruits are so abundant that they lie knee deep on the ground. The pulp is removed and the nuts dried for a few months. There are no insects known to attack the nut in storage and so it is easily conserved, either in the bush or at the home compound.
Average yield per collector: Cracking the nuts is traditionally the domain of women, who use stones or small axes to break the hard outer casing. Cracking (made easier when the nuts are roasted in a fire first) can be done throughout the year, typically when people are less busy in their fields and/or at a time when income is needed most. The average income per year is around USD 200 per producer.