Allanblackia Project: Tree Crops Development in Africa to Benefit the Poor

Project Timeframe:
Mar 2013 to Apr 2016

Related country(s)

Cameroon, Tanzania


  1. Background

The tropical rainforests in Africa are endowed with high value multipurpose trees and many rural households depend heavily on these resources for their food, medicinal and construction needs (Iqbal, 1993; Barany et al., 2001; Walter, 2001; Akinnifesi et al., 2008; Ofori et al., 2012). More than 560 million people live in farming landscapes adjacent to native forests from which both timber and non-timber forest products are harvested, and this exerts a lot of pressure on the genetic resources (Zomer et al., 2009). Improving the livelihoods of the forest fringe communities through support to manage genetic resources and develop value chains for products has positive links with sustainable utilization of the forest resources to ensure biodiversity conservation. One of such candidate tree resources is the genus Allanblackia, ranging from West through Central to East Africa (Fig. 1) and is being domesticated through a public-private partnership. It has a high potential for use in agroforestry systems due to its value as an alternative income as well as its potential to provide shade to other crops, particularly cocoa and the stem also used as timber. The seed oil is the most important economic product with both local and industrial uses. It has a high melting point > 35oC, oleic 40-51% and stearic acid 45-58% (Atangana et al., 2010; Adubofuor et al., 2013). The oil has significant global market potential and has received approval from the European Union Novel Food Regulations for usage in foodstuffs (Hermann, 2009), making it possible to enter the formal international food market, thereby presenting an opportunity for income generation and livelihood improvement of farmers. Due to its economic value, Allanblackia has been considered as a priority species for domestication. However, the domestication of Allanblackia spp. has faced a number of challenges, including seed dormancy, recalcitrant seeds, difficulty experienced in vegetative propagation, removal of mother trees in the wild for timber and also during land preparation for agriculture. In order to meet the demand of >100,000 Allanblackia oil, there is a need to upscale cultivation of Allanblackia spp. with the main goal of reducing rural poverty through enhanced cultivation, processing, marketing and use of the species.  

  1. Main challenges in Allanblackia domestication
  • Wild harvesting cannot sustain supply to industry
  • Both the tree and its habitat are under threat
  • Very limited knowledge on Allanblackia silviculture and cultivation
  • Lack of quality planting stocks
  • Propagation from seed; seed dormancy, dioecious
  • Long gestation period
  • Limited investment potential at small holder farmer level
  • Lack of funding for research and product development
  • Poor information flow from the research institutions to the end-users, thereby affecting negatively adoption of research findings and innovations

  Allanblackia distribution
Fig. 1: Distribution of Allanblackia species in Africa  

  1. Objectives of project
  1. Develop propagation methods and provide farmers with improved Allanblackia planting stocks
  2. Develop the most efficient way for up-scaling production of Allanblackia planting stocks and dissemi­nation by evaluating the potential of the ‘Rural Resource Centre’ model against private nurseries.
  3. Identify morphological markers linked with Allanblackia oil quantity and quality and used for selection of ‘plus trees’
  4. Provide information on sex ratio in AB to provide informed decision on AB plantation establishment
  5. Build capacity of farmers, nursery managers and institutions in sustainable AB propagation, multiplication, management and marketing.


  1. Expected results
  1. Propagation methods for Allanblackia developed and best planting stocks identified and disseminated.
  2. Bottlenecks in Allanblackia germplasm distribution known and sustainable supply systems for improved AB planting materials developed and promoted.
  3. Elite Allanblackia trees with desirable oil characteristics identified and mass produced.
  4. Best environment for AB oil production known for large scale cultivation of AB.
  5. Sex ratio in AB populations known and information used to develop appropriate planting models.


  1. Main activities
  1. Participatory characterisation of superior Allanblackia germplasm and selection of most suitable propagation methods.
  2. Establishment of sustainable Allanblackia germplasm supply systems by using the ‘Rural Resource Centre’ approach.
  3. Identification of morphological markers linked with Allanblackia oil quantity and quality and used for selection of ‘plus trees’
  4. Determination of sex ratio in Allanblackia to provide informed decision on Allanblackia plantation establishment
  5. Development of knowledge and information sharing products on sustainable Allanblackia selection, propagation and on-farm management.
  6. Building the capacity of smallholder farmers and other key stakeholders along the Allanblackia value chain for effective adoption of Allanblackia propagation and cultivation practices.

Key implementation partners

  1. World Agroforestry Centre, Nairobi, Kenya
  2. World Agroforestry centre-HT, Yaunde, Cameroon
  3. CSIR-Forestry Research Institute of Ghana, Kumasi, Ghana
  4. Amani Nature Research, Tanzania
  5. Sokoine University, Morogoro, Tanzania
  6. University of Dar-Es Salaam, Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania