Dr Patrick Maundu, an ethnobotanist at the National Museums of Kenya said that while baobab trees are important cultural heritage they are also important biodiversity. Baobabs, he said, are among the oldest trees in the country that should be protected.
Kilifi, for example, he said, hosts one of the largest baobab trees estimated to be between 1500 and 1600 years old.
"The biggest challenge in the country is that we do not have baobab regulations. There is a need for the formation of policies on baobab that will control the cutting of baobab trees and streamline the harvesting and marketing of its products in the global markets," Dr Maundu said.
Kenya, he said, has the potential to come up with and streamline the baobab production industry as well as create awareness of its benefits.
"Here in Kenya, baobab is a super food. Each part of the tree is useful from the leaves that are consumed as vegetables, to the powder and oil that is gold to the global markets. There is need to regulate the cutting down of these trees and there is need for the return of the Chief's Act to help in controlling the cutting of old trees from the village level," Dr Maundu added.
In African countries with established commercial baobab production industries, local communities harvest the baobab fruits from the wild. It is estimated that a single baobab tree can produce over 1,500 baobab fruits per year.
According to Centre for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries (CBI), Western Europe, particularly the UK, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Italy and Spain, offer the most opportunities to baobab exporters in developing countries
"These countries have a strong and growing natural health product industry, well-developed organic markets, as well as some of the largest consumer markets in Europe. The UK and Germany are home to several producers of baobab products, most of which are organic-certified," CBI noted.
The Baobab Powder market in the US is estimated at US$2 Billion (Ksh 244 billion) in the year 2020. China is forecast to reach a projected market size of US$2.1 Billion (Ksh 256 Billion) by the year 2027. Among the other geographic markets are Japan and Canada.
According to the Centre for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries (CBI), Europe has an attractive market for baobab and there is a growing demand for supplements as well as ingredients with high nutrient content and antioxidant properties.
In addition to baobab powder, there is demand for other baobab ingredients, such as baobab oil, which is used by the cosmetics industry. The European market for baobab ingredients, according to CBI, is expected to increase in the coming years.
Western Europe is the world's second-largest market for baobab powder, accounting for 25 percent of the global market in 2017.
And while there is a growing demand a huge potential for the baobab industry, researchers are worried that climate change and the associated changes in rainfall pose another threat to baobab supply from Africa.
In September 2020, researchers revealed that baobab populations in Southern Kenya have been showing a lack of regeneration, and therefore causing concern for the species' survival.
The study which was done in Taita Taveta County investigated the state, distribution and use of baobabs in an under-researched population in Kenya, to identify the potential for further use and development of baobab resources.