a deep-rooted, strong, and sturdy tree yielding good quality timber. As a mono crop, it can be planted at 400 plants per hectare
(ha), and can then be thinned out if necessary after about 15 to
20 years. The tree reaches maturity in approximately seven to
eight years (Adomako, 1977) and, depending on climatic conditions, it can produce fruit throughout the year, as reported in
the Seychelles. The fruit also yields edible pulp, 40 to 50% of the
fresh fruit by weight.
Q:What potential applications for P. butyracea do you see in Sri Lanka, and other world regions?
(dS): Despite the importance of oilseed from Pentadesma
butyracea, its production remains negligible in the Tropical
West African Region. However, Badoussi, et al. (2014),
reported many regional processing variations used to obtain
P. butyracea butter; most of these processes are carried by
local women. P. butyracea is not widely grown in Sri Lanka,
but if this tree crop were to be established on a commercial
scale for butter production and use of the fresh fruit, it would
stimulate the local economy and aid in the development of
small- and large-scale growers. Regarding uses in Sri Lanka and
other areas of the world, the butter could be used as a source
for CBE production, a trans-fat- free alternative for confectionery and other food applications, and for cosmetic applications.
Q:What motivated you to try growing P. butyracea in Colombia?
(H): As a food engineer (University of Hohenheim,
After meeting a Columbian woman who later became my wife,
I decided to move to Columbia and start a bakery business.
During this process, I realized that most of the nuts required
for bakery applications were being imported. Therefore, I
decided to explore the possibility of growing nuts locally.
Q:What has your experience growing nuts—particularly P. butyracea—in Colombia been like?
(H): First, it is important to mention that in many rural areas
in Colombia much of the agriculture is by trial and error, since
some of these areas have high incidences of poverty and a lack
of agricultural investments. I first started planting Macadamia
nuts, but with the large diversity of climate and soil conditions
in Colombia, this crop proved to be challenging. Some common challenges were too much rain ( 5,000 to 6,000 mm rain
per year), and too high of a requirement for fertilizers. Since
Macadamia nut, I have screened many seeds, including Asian
and African oilseed species, which generally start production 7
to 15 years after planting. Acquiring these seeds was also challenging, since guerrilla conflicts made it difficult to acquire seeds
and farming land in the Amazons. The seeds of P. butyracea germinate easily, and the plant develops and grows well in soils of
poor farming quality. P. butyracea requires little fertilization and
does not seem to be affected by high levels of rain. Although
the plants are growing well, I have not yet harvested the seeds
from my farm, because it takes 7–8 years to reach that stage.
Adomako, D., Fatty acid composition and characteristics
of Pentadesma butyracea fat extracted from ghana
seeds, J. Sci. Food Agr. 28: 384–386, 1977.
Badoussi, et al., Variations in the traditional processing
methods of Pentadesma butyracea butter in northern
Benin, Food Chain 4: 3, 2014.
Tchobo, et al., Characterization of Pentadesma butyracea
sabine butters of different production regions in Benin,
J. Am. Oil Chem. Soc. 84: 755–760, 2007.
Tchobo, et al., Enzymatic synthesis of cocoa butter
equivalent through transesterification of Pentadesma
butyracea butter, J. Food Lipids 16: 605–617, 2009.
A. Edible Pentadesma butyracea fruit
B. Pentadesma butyracea butter
C. Small plantation of Pentadesma
butyracea in Sri Lanka
D. Pentadesma butyracea fruit
(Photos provided by de Silva.)