Organic marula oil
The marula tree (Sclerocarya birrea) flourishes in dry, hot conditions and can be found across semi-arid savannas in much of sub Saharan Africa. Marula trees produce large volumes of tart fruit with edible, protein and oil-rich kernels. Both fruit and kernel are important sources of nutrition for local people, while oil pressed from marula kernels has a long history of culinary and cosmetic use. Marula oil is remarkably stable and resistant to oxidation. Pale yellow with a nutty aroma, it has demonstrated antioxidant, skin healing and hydrating properties and is thought to be useful in anti-aging formulations.
Marula fruits are collected throughout Chivi, Mwenezi and Mberengwa Districts. The process of extracting the kernels from the fruit is laborious: harvesters first separate the flesh of the fruit (used in turn to make jam, juice, and traditionally-fermented beer) from the marula “nut”, leaving the nuts to dry for at least 90 days before they are cracked and the kernels extracted. The kernels are then aggregated at collection points for purchase and transportation to KaZa's processing facility in Harare, where they are cold-pressed into oil.
Country of origin:
KaZa Natural Oils
February - March
How it’s produced
KaZa Natural Oils is an established producer of indigenous carrier oils with a strong track record of environmental and social responsibility.
Harvesters collect wild marula fruit for KaZa throughout southeastern Zimbabwe, waiting for the fruit to ripen and fall to the ground for collection without harm to the trees. Plenty of fruit are left to ensure the germination of seedlings. KaZa's access permits for marula fruit are issued by the Forestry Commission, the Rural District Council and traditional leaders, stakeholders with whom KaZa works closely to manage and monitor harvesting and processing.
KaZa evaluates the marula population for risk of overharvesting, using an ecological management plan to ensure commercialisation does not negatively impact the marulas or their environment and providing training around harvesting best practices. Each batch of marula oil is fully traceable and certified organic.
Marula harvesters (predominantly women) are organised into collectives that negotiate pricing and the terms of their long-term contracts with KaZa. The production of marula oil is considered a Biotrade activity: KaZa has established informed consent with the local authority in the harvesting community and mutually negotiated terms with harvester groups. The Rural District Council is the key stakeholder in the management and monitoring of marula commercialisation, in compliance with Access and Benefit Sharing regulation.