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Non-wood Forest Benefits and Agroforestry Practices in the Fouta Djallon Highlands of Guinea - page 4 / 12





4 / 12

Nordic Journal of African Studies

madagascariensis Lam. Ex Poir.). All of these species were described as providing not only fruit, but also traditional medicines. Leaves from the baobab and shea butter trees were being used when cooking. The fruits of the multi- beneficial néré can be eaten or be processed to juice, the leaves were being used both in cooking and as a fertilizer, the flowers were used in wild honey production, and different parts of the tree were commonly used as traditional medicines. The most valued product was, however, a spice called sumbala or sumbara made from the stones of the néré fruit. Sumbara was described to be a significant part of the Fulbes’ food culture and was used in practically all sauces; many women were still using only it, despite the presence of popular commercial spices like “Maggi” or “Jumbo.” It was also described that in April or May, when néré fruits ripen, women go to collect fruits as many as three times per day; children would usually help their mothers with this task. The production of sumbara was described to be a long process, which takes at least 5 days, but can even take 10 days.


The knowledge and use of traditional medicines was common in the study villages. All interviewees knew how to use medicinal plants and only one said that he hadn’t ever used them. Only in emergency cases (e.g. malaria, parasites, or infections) did people use the services of the region’s medical clinic and pharmacy. These facilities are situated in a town relatively far from the villages and their services were often considered too expensive. Interviewees named 33 common plants that could be used as traditional medicines. Most of these plants grow wild, but they were also cultivated in home gardens. People extracted medicines from the leaves of orange, mango, and avocado; as well as from the roots of papaya and mango. The traditional beliefs that people can become ill due to magic or bad spirits were still present in the villages, but perhaps were not as strong as they were in the past (Derman 1973). Some plants had ceremonial uses, for example kola nuts (Cola nitida (Vent.) Schott & Endl.) were an important part of their traditional rites.

Other important non-wood products from the forests, of a material nature included: rubber, wild honey, and oil for soap. The oil was collected from seeds of trees and shrubs like Carapa procera DC. and Jatropha curcas L. The homemade soap was said to provide good health effects and was sold in the local markets. The rubber was also collected from forest trees (e.g. Saba senegalensis) and sold. All of the respondents’ households collected thatching grass and bamboo for their own needs from the woodlands. However, bigger trees for building purposes must be bought from outside the area because they are not available in the local forests.

Non-material benefits of forests and trees that villagers set the most important values on were shade, windbreaks, bringing rains, and watershed


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