Project Team Leader: Dr. D. A. Ofori
Allanblackia parviflora, is a multipurpose indigenous fruit tree species that could be used in agroforestry systems with both environmental and economic benefits. The seed oil is of prime importance as a foreign exchange earner and is being developed as a rural based enterprise in many African countries notably Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon and Tanzania. The seed oil is in high demand by Unilever for its food products and cosmetics. Currently, the supply of seeds from the wild is 5per cent of the demand. There is therefore a need to domesticate Allanblackia to sustain the supply of Allanblackia seeds to feed both the local and foreign markets. Partners of Novella Africa are therefore encouraging the cultivation of the species for a sustainable supply of seed oil for the manufacturing of products such as soap, margarine etc.
Some of the objectives of this project are to sensitize and encourage farmers to participate in Allanblackia domestication and to integrate Allanblackia in farming systems and agroforestry development. The project began by sensitization of farmers to engage in Allanblackia domestication. This was followed by an inventory within Ghana to zone out its distribution. Fruits/seeds were collected from the distribution zone for genetic diversity analysis and also for the establishment of genebanks at Benso and Amantia. Allanblackia seeds are very dormant and can take seven (7) months to as long as four (4) years to germinate but the dormancy period is partially reduced by removal of seed coat before sowing.
Large variations in morphological characteristics such as fruit and seed morphology were observed. Based on this plus trees have been selected for mass propagation. The observed variations occur both within and among different populations. This suggests that the observed variability may have little to do with environmental factors but rather has a genetic basis that may be reflected in molecular DNA analysis currently in progress. The study showed that addition of the soil collected under an Allanblackia tree and/or commercial mycorrhiza to the potting medium significantly (P < 0.05) enhanced seedling growth and development. Shading (30 - 40% incident light) enhanced the survival of seedlings after potting. In order to improve the root system, quality cuttings and stock plant management practices are being undertaken. Management of wildlings of Allanblackia in cocoa farms and study of the behavior of different propagule types of Allanblackia (seedlings, cuttings and grafts) in farming systems are in progress.