Starting the BioInnovation Africa Projects

At the end of 2019 and beginning of 2020 Parceval, together with various partners, put forward several projects to BioInnovation Africa. BioInnovation Africa, commissioned by the BMZ within the context of the German Marshall Plan with Africa, supports the African and European private sector in developing mutually beneficial business partnerships. These are based on high ethical, social and environmental standards, including equitable benefit-sharing and the sustainable use of Africa’s genetic resources.

After several iterations and proposal stages later, Parceval and its partners successfully secured 5 collaborative projects within the BioInnovation Africa programme. In November, after various delays caused by the pandemic, we embarked on the first stages of two of these projects, both of which are based in the Limpopo Province of South Africa.


The first project entails setting up the sustainable supply chain of a tree seed from communities in Venda. Currently the tree grows wild in the surrounding mountains, however the project’s aim is to “green” local villages, make the tree more accessible to community members for seed collection and increase the number of trees in the area.

During an intensive trip to Limpopo, the team met with two communities to introduce the project and look at options around conservation and sustainability. After much fruitful discussion it was agreed to construct a nursery within the primary school precinct in one village. The nursery will act as the central “depot” and once seedlings are sufficiently robust, they will be planted out in the village.

The second village entails smaller, individual “home garden” nurseries where homeowners will be responsible for 10 – 15 seedlings that they will nurture until they are ready to be planted out in the village. The seedlings will be purchased from the nurseries and will generate some income for the community members.

Since the meeting in November, the first nursery has already been constructed and is ready and waiting for seedlings to be installed in January /February 2021.


The second project is around a well-known resource – Marula. The team visited a number of members of the industry to get a better understanding of the dynamics of the industry and the supply situation. We found that the Marula resource is very large and, due to it’s large distribution area, also boasts a lot of variation between trees from different origins. This makes standardisation of products in the industry very challenging but also offers opportunities in crop improvement and specialisation. There is some interesting work ahead.

Part of this project will be contributing to a sector development plan that is unfolding around Marula (driven by the Department of Forests, Fisheries and Environment and BIA and being developed by Sandra Kruger and Associates) and investigating innovative products that can beneficiate all parts of the Marula fruit.

With the first steps made, we are looking forward to seeing how these projects will evolve and develop over the next year and a half.