The UN General Assembly proclaimed 21 March as the International Day of Forests in 2012. The Day celebrates and raises awareness of the importance of all types of forests.
On each International Day of Forests, countries are encouraged to undertake local, national and international efforts to organize activities involving forests and trees, such as tree planting campaigns. The theme for 2021 is Forest restoration: a path to recovery and well-being”.
African locust bean is a medium-sized legume tree that reaches 20-30 m high. It has a dense, widely spreading umbrella-shaped crown and a cylindrical trunk that can reach 130 cm in diameter, often branching low. The bark is longitudinally fissured, scaly between the fissures, thick, ash-grey to greyish-brown in colour. It exudes an amber gum when cut.
African locust bean is a multipurpose tree. The seeds, pods, fruit pulp and leaves are edible and used as cooking or drinking ingredients. The tree is particularly valued for its fermentescible
They are fermented to prepare a condiment that is called “Iruu, gbawn”, “dawadawa”, “netetu” or “afinti” that is a strongly pugent as French cheese. This condiment used for sauce and soup seasoning is one of the most important commercial products traded in western Africa(Okunland). Ground with moringa leaves, the seeds are ingredients for sauces and doughnuts. They can be roasted to make a coffee substitute known as “Sudan coffee”.
In the mature pod, seeds are surrounded by a quantitatively important mucilaginous pulp which is separated from the seeds when they are collected. This mealy pulp is traditionally consumed as fresh food by local African populations (Okuns) It makes valuable baby food and is used to make a refreshing drink. The leaves can be boiled, mixed with cereal flour and eaten as vegetable. Flower buds are edible and added to salads.
Fruit pulp, foliage and seeds of the African locust bean can be used to feed livestock and poultry. The fruit pulp and the seeds, once processed to remove antinutritional factors, can be included in livestock feed. The leaves provide useful though not very palatable fodder. Their usefulness is increased by the fact that they can be harvested during the dry season when feed is scarce. However, it should be mixed with other feed because their mineral content is too low. The flowers are attractive to bees and a good source of nectar. The African locust bean trees are suitable for beehives.
The bark has many traditional uses in ethnomedicine. A root decoction is reported to treat coccidiosis in poultry. Green pods are used as fish poison to catch fish in rivers. African locust bean trees are used as ornamental. They are useful soil improvers and their leaves provide.
With the above listed benefits of this tree, it is unfortunate that loggers has resorted to this selfish and obnoxious use of this economic trees in okunland.
The wood is used in light constructions, poles, mortars, and many kinds of furniture and utensils. It is valuable firewood and provides pulp to make paper.
As we mark this year celebration I employ us all to start planting Igi igba back in okunland and discourage its deforestation.
Yeye Omoleye Adebanji aiyelabowo
Yeye Oge of Okunland.