Balanite, more commonly known as the desert date, is indigenous to Senegal. The healing and cosmetic properties of the oil pressed from the nut have a long and storied tradition, dating back to Cleopatra. However, it has largely been used locally, and has not yet been brought to the global market on a large scale. AYWA is looking to change that.
In collaboration with a The Ohio State University and Vanderbilt University, AYWA is mapping the process of Balanite Oil production from nut collection through export and sale to global markets. Currently the nuts are being collected in villages by the women and children, cracked with a machete, and pressed in a hot hand crank press. The women then sell the oil in the local market, where it is mainly used for cooking.
We are currently exploring options to mechanize the cracking and pressing processes to meet higher quality standards required by the cosmetic producers. This will allow the women in the villages to sell a higher quality product and capture more of the value from this valuable and readily available nut.