By: Linda Dede Nyanya Godji Incoom
Tropical almond (Terminalia catappa) also known as Indian almond, is a tree native to tropical regions in Asia, Africa, and Australia. Various parts of the tropical almond tree, including its leaves, fruits, and seeds, have been used for their medicinal and nutritional properties in traditional medicine systems.
In Ghana, tropical almond, locally referred to as ‘Abrofo nkati3 or Blofo Nkati3’, has for years remained a cherished childhood delicacy, holding childhood memories of cracking open its fleshy fruit and savoring the delicious kernel inside.
For years, unfortunately, it was just that—the fleshy fruit kids enjoyed. With its only other known purpose being ornamental─: enhancing the landscape and providing shade to homes that housed the trees.
However, Talmond Limited, recognizing the wasted opportunities, dedicated two years to research and data gathering from 2019 to 2021. In 2021, the company commenced production and sales, marking the beginning of a transformative journey.
Through extensive research, the company identified 24 elite varieties out of the over 116 collected in Ghana alone. The delightful fruit was unfortunately shrouded in myths, with beliefs that it brought bad luck to homes. However, the benefits of this neglected tree are now being unveiled.
Among some of the numerous benefits of the tropical almond are:
Nutritional Value: Tropical almonds are known to be a good source of proteins, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals such as calcium and magnesium.
Medicinal Uses: The leaves and bark of tropical almond trees are said to contain compounds with anti-inflammatory properties, which can be useful for treating various inflammatory conditions, and antioxidants that help combat oxidative stress, as well as numerous anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties.
Skin and Wound Healing: Another essential benefit of tropical almond is the moisturizing properties contained in tropical almond oil, which aid in treating skin disorders like eczema as well as healing wounds and reducing scars.
Environmental Benefits: Also, tropical almond’s drought-resistant nature gives it the ability to grow anywhere. It also promotes biodiversity and contributes to carbon sequestration and water retention in the soil through fallen leaves. Research suggests that the presence of almond trees attracts bats, which feed on toxic chemicals, leading to cleaner air.
“Bats are promoters of clean air because they feed on the chemicals. So, in cocoa-growing areas where chemicals is an issue, if you have almonds there, the bats don’t just eat the fruits; they also eat the chemicals, keeping the air clean.” Head of Extension and Outreach at Talmond Limited, Dr. Eva Agana stated in an interview with agrighanaonline.com,
“It is a good afforestation species because it sinks a lot of carbon into the environment, and it grows as wide as 25 meters, which helps clear the air of bad chemicals.” Dr. Agana added.
The rise of plant-based alternatives has captured the attention of health-conscious individuals and environmental advocates worldwide. Talmond recognizes the significance of plant-based milks as a sustainable alternative to dairy, particularly for the estimated 70-90% of lactose-intolerant Africans and 65% of the world’s human adults. By developing a range of plant-based products, Talmond contributes to social justice, health benefits, animal welfare, and environmental conservation.
Among the most popular plant milks globally, conventional almond milk presents a challenge due to its high-water consumption. Each conventional almond requires an average water footprint of 12 liters, making it one of the most water-intensive crops per unit weight. However, Talmond has found a solution in the tropical almond, which thrives in Ghana without requiring irrigation water.
With the introduction of tropical almond milk, Talmond offers a novel, protein-rich food source that boasts nutritional benefits similar to conventional almonds but with significantly lower environmental impact.
Talmond Limited has devised key strategies to ensure the long-term sustainability and widespread adoption of the tropical almond through the following:
Expansion: Talmond aims to encourage more individuals to cultivate this indigenous crop, initially focusing on the Volta, Eastern, and Greater Accra regions, while also sourcing supplies from other countries.
Market creation: Talmond is actively creating a market for a crop that previously had limited commercial potential, opening doors for economic growth and prosperity.
Economic empowerment: By promoting the cultivation of tropical almonds, Talmond enables smallholder farmers to generate income from a crop that was once overlooked
Dr. Agana underscored the need for more individuals to get involved in tropical almond planting because “you are not just planting a tree that will promote biodiversity, promote air quality, and give you shade to sit under, but you are planting a tree that will produce for you to make additional income from.” She said.
The tropical almond milk comes in three varieties: the unsweetened milk, the cinnamon, and the prekese-infused flavor. Other products from Talmond aside the milk are the roasted almond kernel and almond flour, which is a healthier alternative for baking.
Keep an eye on Talmond Limited as they forge ahead, creating new value chains and transforming lives through their innovative approach to neglected tropical almonds. With their commitment to sustainability, local empowerment, and environmental stewardship, Talmond paves the way for a more diverse and resilient food system, one delicious and nutritious product at a time.